Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Catching Up with the Past

"Place it in your memory, leave it in your past, but don't forget." - Depeche Mode, In Your Memory

I was looking at some old photographs the other day, deciding which ones to put in a family photo album I've been working on for a while now. It's a project I've been wanting to finish, yet sadly it keeps getting set aside.

It's partly the procrastinator in me that's been keeping the project from moving forward. That, and the fact that there are always other things that get in the way of my being able to spend as much time on it as I would like. I see the photo album in the bookcase every day, a container that I am slowly filling with pieces of my and my family's past.

I believe staying connected to the past is very important. Photos, treasured family keepsakes and heirlooms, having a record of events, commemorating the family, especially the loved ones who are no longer here, are all very important to me. While the photo album isn't finished, I have purchased some beautiful picture frames over the years, filled them with some of my favorite photos, and displayed them in my home.

Photographs can evoke fond memories. Of course, memories can come to us at any time, sometimes brought about by something like hearing an old song on the radio or seeing someone who looks like a person we used to know. Or maybe we just find ourselves waxing nostalgic.

One day, we'll look back on this...

There are some moments we want to hold onto forever. We want to remember them always - every detail and exactly how we felt at the time. We document our experiences in journals and diaries and capture them in pictures and on video recordings. All so we can hold onto those moments and relive them whenever we want.

We share our memories with family and friends, remembering those special times together, to celebrate the life of a loved one who has passed on, or to have a laugh, or just to make sure we keep our memories alive.

Certain memories cheer us up when we're feeling down, and sometimes memories can even inspire us. Maybe we decide to write about our family, to revive a family tradition or start a new one.

Another great thing is, every day we are making new memories. With each new thing that happens in our lives, a new memory is created.

Past Imperfect

The past is not without its flaws. Everyone has bad memories. We've all had things happen in our lives that made us angry or sad. It's important to find a way to make peace with those events. I found talking to a counselor helped me deal with some past issues. And time really does help heal as well.

It's best to focus on remembering the good times and the people, places and things that made you happy and to work on leaving the bad memories where they belong - in the past.

We all have regrets. Maybe we passed up an opportunity we wish we hadn't. Rather than beat ourselves up about it, we should just make sure we seize the opportunities that come our way in the present and future.

Every one of us has made mistakes, said or done something we wish we could go back and change. Mistakes should be viewed as learning opportunities. You make a mistake, you learn from it, you move on. The past is there to teach us, and to remind us that we have the chance to do things differently now. There is no point in holding on to regrets. And sometimes we can find redemption in the present for mistakes we made in the past.

Our past is undeniably important. Look at how history has such an impact on our lives today. Clearly we have learned from it and still have an appreciation for those who came before us who have given us so much.

Taking a trip down memory lane can be a fun diversion and can generate some positive feelings. Whether it's being grateful for the loving family we had or proud that we overcame a troubled past, it's always good to remember where we came from. Sometimes we may find the lane a little rocky here and there, but ultimately, the past has made us who we are today. And as we continue on into the future, the lane behind us will get longer and longer, the passage of time ever showing us how temporary things are.

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