"Memory always obeys the commands of the heart."
Memories are like a kaleidoscope. They present in the mind as fractals of vivid, surreal colors that your mind can translate into anything- depending on your imagination. As when looking through a kaleidoscope, your memories don't paint themselves with all the intricate, important detail of the past. Without further examination, memories are just a swirl of the most dominant feelings or impressions from those moments. That's why, without digging deeper into those memories, they can be dangerous.
A few days ago I was looking through pictures on my old MySpace (oh, the teen angst!) and came across some photos with an old friend from my past. With each click of the mouse, I felt a subtle ache in the pit of my stomach. The hands of quiet nostalgia began to curl its fingers around my heart. I remembered laying in the dark with that friend singing songs from our favorite bands, discussing what we thought about the girls at school who were already having sex with their boyfriends, and then laughing loudly as we both agreed that we were kind of jealous of them for even having boyfriends. I remembered slapping on pounds of thick, black eyeliner and going to see some local "screamo" bands with her, trying to look as 'bad-girl' as two 'do-good' girls could look. I had fun with her. And I realized that I missed her very much.
Later that night, as I was trying to doze off, she popped in my head again. I was thinking, should I reach out to her? Should I try to reconnect? The more I thought about it, the more memories that would come. But, this time the memories weren't quite as sugar-coated. I remembered the drama-fest that would ensue when I spent time with another friend more than her, I remembered feeling ashamed because I became the "boring" friend who didn't want to drink or smoke or party. These two trails of memories were polar opposites. Black and white.
That's when I realized, memories are only dealt in extremes. You don't get the grey area.
But what makes it so extreme? You do.
Even though this was a minor moment of reflection on my past, it taught me a valuable lesson. When recalling memories that seem extreme, I must examine why my mind is warping the analysis. Is it because I felt sort of lonely that day, so I build up that friendship in my mind because I want the perfect friendship today? Is it because I feel like I could never find a friend that made me happy like they did?
Or maybe I remember a friendship as a disaster that went down in flames. Well, maybe that means that I have some resentment towards that person that needs to be released. Holding onto that anger can burn any positive memories, and leave the past in a heap of ashes.
Now what about when it comes to romantic relationships? Do you ever feel lonely and dream about an old boyfriend and think, "Why the hell did I ever leave him? He was so fun! And so hot! I think he really cared about me! I'm sure it was my fault! I should totally be with him right now! He was basically perfect!" Well, chances are there is a reason you left him. Probably a pretty darn good one. And if he left you, then that is an issue that HE needs to work out. However, your mind may feel lonely and want to feel the fleeting moment of excitement or attraction that you felt with one person. So in your mind, you build this person up to the one who can make all your dreams come true. All of your memories of them become warped into a Nicholas Sparks movie. Ick. ;)
But what you have to realize is, if that person was all of those perfect things that you have convinced yourself that they are, then that person would find a way to be in your life. If they don't want to be in your life, then they aren't worth your time because they don't understand or know you at all. You are valuable. You are complex and you deserve to be with someone who WANTS to be with you.
I'm not saying you shouldn't look back fondly at the past, I just believe people should take caution when lavishing in their memories. I'm not saying never give anything a second chance. Just make sure your memories are based on fact and not fantasies.