I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’ve been reading these great epic novels lately, which follow a group of close comrades and crisscrossing friendships over the course of several decades, that I have been particularly cognizant of our precious friendships and the experiences we go through and cherish together.
Those relationships and those shared episodes are the treasures of a lifetime, and when I envision where I want to be and what I want to be doing — a year, or five or 10 or however many years from now, it always involves being with people who are special to me reminiscing over our stories.
It’s more than just recalling the events, though that in itself is plenty enjoyable, as far as I’m concerned; it’s the meaning that surrounds those events; what they meant to us then and what they mean to us now; how they created a bond between us — then — and how they keep us connected now.
In a sense, they are like “clues” in a big investigation, or the “findings” from some grand experiment, and when we put them together with other clues and pair them with other findings, an overall picture emerges.
Though they come to us from our past, they get processed again in the present, in our brains and in our hearts, and integrated into our consciousness, resulting in our present understanding of the world and our philosophy of life.
In this way, the sharing of our memories helps us better understand who and how we are as individuals and as a group (family, team, class, neighborhood, etc.).
If your experience is anything like mine, then you know how the sharing of memories with the special people in your life can bring a smile to your face and put a twinkle in your eye, and if you’re really lucky, you might even get to laugh — real laughter.
If I think about the times that I’ve laughed the hardest, and what prompted it, I realize a few things. First, that those moments always occur with someone else.
Never have I been alone and laughed so hard that my sides hurt and my drink shot through my nostrils. Nor have I laughed that hard if the person or people I was with didn’t also laugh just as hard and just as deeply.
Psychologists say you can only experience that kind of laughter with someone you trust and are comfortable with. I can count the number of times on my fingers that I’ve experienced that kind of laughter. It’s rare, so by definition, the people you share those moments with are “special,” made so by having shared that special moment.
I realize, also, that every one of those standout moments are what we refer to as “had to be there” type experiences because there’s no way you can convey or re-create the energetic release of such deeply personal, highly subjective, fully involved moments.
But you can still get refreshed by them, especially if you’re lucky enough to still have those laughing partners in your life. If not, it is in memory that we keep those people and those experiences alive, and in the sharing of them, we keep those memories alive.
Does that mean the value of telling our stories and sharing our memories is limited to the times when we are in the presence of old friends?
Not at all, for we all have common experiences, be it the first concert we ever went to, a favorite vacation or some mysterious, unexplainable thing that happened. Not only do I find it entertaining to engage in the sharing of those memories and the telling of those stories, I find that through doing so, I develop a new appreciation, form new bonds, gain new insights and come to a new understanding — of myself and the world.
How I look forward to our times together, when our memories are made new, and our past is made present — in our hearts.
We have learned, and are learning, that certain words are hurtful to specific genders, sexual orientations or races, and so we are being asked to consider our word choices.