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Day 152: How We Remember Life On Earth

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” -Lewis B. Smedes

Some days it is hard to bear witness to the world we have made. The ongoing gush of petrol into ocean, the killing of peace activists on route to bring supplies, the ticking away of now a trillion dollars of resources for wars that have no end. These are the headlines on a holiday dedicated to memory. As we remember those who were sacrificed in our endless military actions, we should also remember that we continue to dedicate the better part of our collective resources to weaponry that is beyond most people’s imagination.

Most days the news is not conducive to my positivity quest. Einstein said, “Memory is deceptive because it is colored by today’s events,” which explains why we have so much trouble changing course. We continuously select our memories to support our present. Unfortunately this is also how we chart our future. Our memory is the internal mechanism we use to interpret the events of our lives, organizing and storing them in order to know ourselves. This is the principle way that we make meaning of our life, which is why the Greek philospher, Aeschylus named memory as the “mother of all wisdom.”

Wisdom comes when we process things that were hard to bear and remember their lessons. We choose our memories of people we lost that we can hold close in our hearts. We interpret and remember the lessons of events that help us live with our actions. This is how our memory is a relative of the truth, and sometimes a distant relative. Choosing to archive the memories that can lead us closer to our own truths has everything to do with how and what we pay attention to.

If we honor the full truth of our present, then we are willing to hold what is heartfelt and heartbreaking at the same moment. The memories born of this internal struggle have the capacity to heal not only the past, but give us a path to a future that we can invest our hope in. This is my lesson for Memorial day and the only route to a positivity quest.