The Persistence of Memory (1931) Salvador Dali. Mike Steele: Flickr.
- Memories Can Be Absolutely Wonderful Or Dreadfully Painful.
Memories can be sweet and pleasant; they can also be painful and disturbing, or somewhere in between. Memories are not black and white.
They represent a full-colour miscellany of our experiences and therefore can produce a mixture of feelings in us.
“Plants won’t wither if we always water them. So it’s, also, with the memories. It’s good, when they’re pleasant, but if they aren’t, then it’s madness.”
“There are moments when I wish I could roll back the clock and take all the sadness away, but I have a feeling that if I did, the joy would be gone as well. So I take the memories as they come, accepting them all, letting them guide me whenever I can.”
- Good Memories.
William Merritt Chase – A Memory, In the Italian Villa. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr
Happy memories can fill us with joy, sunshine and warmth; remembering good times can also help us through the bad periods in our life, like the pandemic.
Edward Cucuel – Summer in the Garden of the Artist’s Villa on Lake Starnberg [1915-20]
Such recollections can be like a sort of comfort blanket, something to hold onto when we need security and reassurance.
Perhaps memories, elusive and mercurial as they are, can also serve to reassure us that “This too will pass.” They are a poignant reminder of the passage of time.
What we may learn through the process of remembering is that we are referring to a time gone by: everything is impermanent.
Remembering the past also teaches us that we have, mostly, been able to be resilient enough to endure the bad times, and to survive them. We can assume, then, that if that was true in the past, it can be true now.
We do have within us that resilience, that courage; our memory is testament to that. This thought can fortify us during difficulties in the present.
Vincent van Gogh – Memory of the Garden at Etten . Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
- Painful Memories.
René Magritte – Memory [c.1957] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
There are times when memories can be distressing and traumatic, interfering with our everyday life with their power to disrupt our sleep, work and relationships. Such memories can be persistent, intrusive and invasive.
In his book The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Bessel A. van der Kolk points out how powerful are such unworked through traumatic memories in the present:
“Being traumatized means continuing to organize your life as if the trauma were still going on—unchanged and immutable—as every new encounter or event is contaminated by the past.”
“It takes enormous trust and courage to allow yourself to remember.”
Bessel A. van der Kolk
- Psychotherapy To Help When Memories Are too Disturbing.
“Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence.”
Peter A. Levine
Ellen Starr Lyon – The Vulnerability of Man II Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
Psychotherapy can help when memories feel too painful to bear. Different psychotherapy approaches can aid us in coping with such memories.
For example, if we require and can manage a psychoanalytical approach, it may be possible to work through the trauma, which could take some months or years.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is designed to treat trauma by examining feelings, thoughts and behaviour that may be unhelpful. Clients will be encouraged to manage these more constructively and healthily.
Remembering is part of working towards self-knowledge; if we know what is at the root of our current pain, then we may be able to face and work on it in psychotherapy.
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
“Whenever we give up, leave behind, and forget too much, there is always the danger that the things we have neglected will return with added force.”
Carl Jung,( Memories, Dreams, Reflections.)
Zhang Xiaogang – Amnesia and Memory, Sleep Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr
“We seem to live in a world where forgetting and oblivion are an industry in themselves and very, very few people are remotely interested or aware of their own recent history, much less their neighbours’. I tend to think we are what we remember, what we know. The less we remember, the less we know about ourselves, the less we are.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
He Lihuai – The Intercept Memory Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Forget: Refuse to dwell; let go and loosen one’s hold, particularly on memory. To forget is an active – not passive – endeavor.”
Clarissa Pinkola Estes
If we keep the painful memories at the front of our minds, we will not be able to function on a daily basis.
“Sooner or later she had to give up the hope of a better past.”
Traumatic memories need to be put in their place, once they have been explored and when we feel ready to let go. Of course, this is not a complete process; we can never wipe trauma from our brain.
We can never simply ‘forget.’ That would not be therapeutic at all. But we can learn to carry the painful memories better, so that they do not control our lives.
From : “The Sentence”
“Today I have so much to do:
I must kill memory once and for all,
I must turn my soul to stone, I must learn to live again-“
3. There Are Memories In The Inanimate Objects Around Us.
Do you ever think, when in an old building or under an ancient tree, “What if these walls or this tree could talk? Or “What if the people this old photo could speak, tell me how they are feeling and what is happening in their lives?”
Mary Chiaramonte – These Memories Too Are Bound To Die Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Aryami Bose’s home had been closed up for years, inhabited only by books and paintings, but the spectre of thousands of memories imprisoned between its walls still permeated the house.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Anette Harboe Flensburg – House of Memory  Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“It was the kind of building that remembered things, deep-down things, things that rode tears into the world, telling them back to anyone old enough or wise enough to know how to listen with their eyes.”
“The visible world is a daily miracle for those who have eyes and ears; and I still warm hands thankfully at the old fire, though every year it is fed with the dry wood of more old memories.”
Many of the inanimate objects around us are imbued with meanings and memories, so that even a glance at them brings the past flooding back.
In terms of houses, we often talk of a place having ‘atmosphere.’ It is almost as if some buildings have memories of what has happened within stored deep inside their walls.
4. Memory Can Serve As Memorial.
“Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero
The objects around us may function as a kind of memorial to a lost person, a lost place.
Jewellery and trinkets, articles of clothing, letters and all kinds of possessions can be a way of memorialising and keeping some of the past alive in the present.
They represent in a solid and material way something that is no longer in our lives, a kind of transitional object to ease us through our pain.
Charles Spencelayh – His Old Wedding Hat . Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“So long as we are being remembered, we remain alive.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Charles Spencelayh – Treasures. Gandalf’s Gallery.
“If there is any substitute for love, it is memory.“
5. Visual, Bodily And Auditory Memories Can Be Powerful Reminders
Patty Carroll – Scrapbooking Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr
“Max had once read in one of his father’s books that some childhood images become engraved in the mind like photographs, like scenes you can return to again and again and will always remember, no matter how much time goes by.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Music may transport us into the past; as we hear certain melodies, we may instantly recall times and events, people and places from yesterday.
The sense of taste has the same effect sometimes.
“No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me………..And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane.”
Proust. Mémoires du Temps Perdu.
Photographs can instantly revivify past experiences.They are strong visual records of how things were.They also serve as a measure of how time has passed.
Strangely, photographs appear to change as we grow and move through life. They do not stay the same, for each time we look at them, we see them differently, especially after we have not looked at them for some years.
Stephen Bauman – When I Was Young. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Art is the act of triggering deep memories of what it means to be fully human.”
Hannu Palosuo – Sources of Souvenirs Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“And gradually his memory slipped a little, as memories do, even those with so much love attached to them; as if there is an unconscious healing process within the mind which mends up in spite of our desperate determination never to forget.”
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