Into my heart’s treasury
I slipped a coin
That time cannot take
Nor a thief purloin,-
Oh, better than the minting
Of a gold-crowned king
Is the safe-kept memory
Of a lovely thing.
The Coin, by Sara Teasdale, American poet (1884-1933)
Most of us are content to have things stay the same. We are happy with the familiar and the constant, but life is transitory. Nothing stays the same. Special days anticipated long in advance come and quickly go. People grow up, move to other places, and die. Everything in its time passes away. We can’t alter that fact and, yet, in a way we can, through our faculty of memory, wherein events of our past remain preserved, permanently current and unchanged.
Memory is defined as the ability of the human mind to store, retain, and subsequently recall information, personal experiences, and procedures. Memories can never be destroyed for they are indelibly etched in our minds and indeed in our hearts. They make us who we are, by linking the unique occurrences of our individual pasts with our presents and, in turn, our futures.
We often say, “That time was so wonderful. I wish I could be there all over again!” Through our memories, we can. Our power to hold on to the events of our days through recollection allows us to re-live those times that meant the most to us whenever we wish.
Just a whiff of perfume or a few notes of a musical tune can instantly transport us back to a notable moment or help us call to mind an acquaintance of yesteryear. Anytime we choose, we can recapture the excitement we felt on receiving our very first bicycle, the exhiliration of hitting a home run, taking that first plane ride, or making it through a speech and receiving applause. We look at young people graduating from college and see them as ones we knew as toddlers just starting out.
It is wonderful to be able to recollect happy days, kindnesses shown, and exceptional people whose paths crossed ours. When loved ones die, it’s the good times we shared with them that we remember, and in this way we honor them. We may help individuals who have sadness or regret surrounding a certain day or event by sharing a pleasant reflection of our own from that same time.
Those who have lived many years enrich us with their tales of past happenings and turns of events that made the difference for them and those in their world. The days recounted are long gone, but those individuals were once actually there, and, through their retrospection, we are there, too. Likewise, we can help make memories for younger generations by reaching out to them and relating our stories.
Everything in life ultimately becomes old and just a memory, but this should not be cause for sadness, because once something becomes a memory, it is ever-new and with us always.