Wednesday, September 12

Never Another Today

Have you ever tried to revisit an old fond memory, only to find out it's just not the same?  It can be very disappointing.  It's usually pointless to try and recreate a memory.  This "memory recreation" has been the subject of many a sitcom, and for good reason.  It never feels the same the second time around.

When I was little, my parents used to take my sisters and me sledding.  We would venture out to various locations to find a good hill, but one of the sledding venues that I specifically remember was this hill in a neighboring town, right next to a church off the main street. 

Sledding was awesome. 
Playing in the snow was is always fun. 
The hill was GINORMOUS.
And I have amazingly fond memories of sledding there.

Fast forward a bit - I went to that same hill, 10-15 years later.  You know how big it actually is?  If I had to guess, I'd say the total incline is maybe 20 feet (and a low grade, at that).  That "ginormous" sledding hill is sad, folks.  Sure, it worked like magic for toddlers on a toboggan, but looking at it as an adult, I saw a shamefully teeny-tiny hill.  Sledding down that hill now?  No thanks.  I was astonished at how tiny the hill was... and it made me wonder, are my memories really that skewed?

I've been blessed to be able to travel pretty extensively in my life, and sometimes to the same countries more than once.  But it never feels the same the second time around, or even the third.  It's officially been 7 years since I've been to Hawaii, and I would love to go back.  But I know it won't be the same, even if my dear friend Keri comes with me again.  :)  Even something like trying to recreate a recipe that you once enjoyed: it won't taste exactly the same; ingredients, atmosphere, and the company you keep have much to do with how your food tastes.  I'm a firm believer that the same dish can never be made twice.  And I'm sort of a nut about holidays... I will forever attempt [unsuccessfully] to recreate the feeling of my childhood Christmases (or St. Patrick's Day 2006). 

One of my favorite places in Kalamazoo is a little-known arboretum - it's difficult to find when you're looking for it, and nearly impossible to just stumble upon, which only adds to the intrigue.  Last spring/summer, I went there several times.  It was always warm, sunny, green, and breathtakingly beautiful (the pic below is the arboretum in May 2011).

 And on New Year's Eve 2011, I went back to the arboretum, looking for the same magic.  And the photo below shows you what I found.  Everything looked different.  The sky was gray and cold, the leaves were gone, the path looked a little more crooked, and the trees didn't even seem to be standing upright.  It was completely different.  And I haven't been back since.

About a month ago, I called someone whom I haven't talked to in a while - we weren't exactly on speaking terms (think really hard, and you can guess who it was).  And for some reason, my memory was off; I remembered this person as the kind, caring person I once knew him to be.  But after my conversation with him, I realized just how skewed my memory was.  After hanging up the phone, I was glad I made that phone call, because it proved to me just how poorly I remembered his character.  And I have no desire to talk to him again.  Maybe it's best to just have fond memories of past experiences without trying to recreate them. 

So much around me has changed that it's impossible to recreate what I once had.  The people I'm with, the things that I'm excited about, my life schedule... everything is different, including my perspective on things.  Case in point: the sledding hill. 

Maybe that's the kicker.  Our own perspectives change.  We're constantly learning, changing, and becoming more of the person we're destined to be.  It's no wonder we can't recreate past experiences... Our world is constantly forcing us to bend beyond what we think we can bear.  And with each push, with each bend, we're changed.  Our wants and needs, our interests, our beliefs, tolerances, hopes, dreams, desires, they all morph right along with us.  If we've got good memories, perhaps it's best to keep them as just what they are: memories.  Perhaps our attempts to recreate will only yield disappointment.

If you remember something fondly, keep it close to your heart.  Treasure the experiences that bring a smile to your face, and live the amazing life you're destined to live today.  If there's one truth in life, it's this: you will never have another today.

"What I love most about rivers is: you can't step in the same river twice."
-- Pocahontas  (that's for you, Brie!!)

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