In Order to Remember

Memories are incredibly powerful, and we see that a lot in the adventures that surround us. Memories can make or break a hero, saving him or her from a dangerous situation by reminding them of what’s important, or crushing their hopes and spirits with nightmares from the past. Memories are constant, always being gathered and always turning and changing in our minds, no matter what we’re doing.

In many stories, memories play a key role. In the recent movie Rise of the Guardians, memories were held in Tooth Fairy’s collections of teeth. They were returned to children when they needed them most and were what gave Jack Frost the answer he was looking for: why he was chosen to be a guardian.

In Harry Potter, memories help the plot, revealing key things about Voldemort’s past, as well as explaining backstories. It was Snape’s memories that made him a character beloved by so many fans. Thanks to the ability to capture and view memories with magic, the characters in Rowling’s world are always connected to their pasts and the pasts of those around them.

In some stories, like City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, the Dragonlance: The New Adventures series, and Unicorns of Balinor series by Mary Stanton, the main characters experience memory loss which they must overcome to continue on their quest. It is only when they have unlocked their memories that they are strongest.

Memories are also very closely related to death. One example I can think of is in the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. The dead cats of StarClan are only powerful because they are remembered by those still alive. It is when all living memory of them has passed that they fade away and lose their ability to influence the world.

The magic that memories possess are very clearly realized in stories and adventures, but they can also be found all around us in our own lives. Memories can be hiding anywhere, but we see them most in old diary or journal entries, in photographs, in home videos, in letters, and in souvenirs. We surround ourselves with these memories, most of them good, to remind us of what is important and sacred.

And yet, nothing can protect us or our memories from the aging mind.

No matter how old you are, you can’t remember everything there is to remember in your life. Only the past four or five years of my life are years that I can remember very vividly, and even then I have some spotty moments. The most exciting, significant, or important events, I can remember more clearly, but the memories I wish I could keep the freshest are the ones of everyday life.

I wish I could remember every laugh I shared with my friends and family, every beautiful sight I ever saw, or every pleasant thought that crossed my mind, but these ordinary things are sometimes lost to forgetfulness. Luckily, everyone remembers different things, and so sometimes I can remember something small just by interacting with someone else, someone who can jog my memory and remind me of the feelings I experienced in the past.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember everything, not even if others help me. But I don’t believe that any important memory is ever lost. I think that, even when my mind fails to recall something, my soul or my heart will remember. Those laughs, smiles, and moments of happiness get caught up in the fibres of my being, forever a part of who I am.

And when I need them most, they will lend me their strength.

We aren’t heroes because of the memories we have yet to make, or the memories that we are in the middle of creating. We are heroes because of the vast memories of our pasts, the thoughts and feelings and emotions that we have already experienced, which are already a part of us, and which give us inspiration and empowerment. Our memories make us strong, because they are a very powerful kind of magic.

What sorts of memories are most important to you? Moments with friends or family? Beautiful sights? Which emotions from your past give you the most strength?

May you always have faith in your memory, so that it may one day be your conviction.

-Alex

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6 thoughts on “In Order to Remember

    • That’s one of the reasons why I write a journal; I can document the thoughts and events I want to remember and recall them whenever I please. It isn’t nearly the same as actually living through the original memory, of course, and so it really would be nice if we could store them somewhere to be relived.

  1. This makes me think of something Cormac McCarthy wrote in The Road: what you put into your head can never be removed. Unlike a computer, we can’t “delete” experiences — forgetting is only losing the link between discrete experiences. Which is bad enough; it’s like your brain ends up being a bag full of coins you can’t use anywhere.

    I’ll remember this blog post (haha).

    • That’s a very cool way of looking at it, the coin part especially. Wouldn’t it be interesting if our memories could somehow be passed on when we die, straight from our heads into someone else’s? Maybe that person would find somewhere to spend those coins, even if we couldn’t.

      And I’m glad my post was memorable :P

  2. You really need to watch Sherlock. The dude’s got a mind palace where he stores all the things he ever thought might be important and then he goes back into it and finds the things he thought he forgot, but he didn’t forget, they’re in the mind palace! Sorry that was an awful explanation, but I thought it was relevant :p

    • Hm that’s cool. I would love a mind palace… sure beats having to drag myself out of bed at midnight to write down plot notes! And maybe then I could remember to replace the shampoo bottle before I get in the shower. :P I will eventually watch Sherlock though. I’m waiting for the bandwagon to get suitably ahead of me before I hop on, just to make sure I don’t get run over or anything.

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