I have a very good memory. Too good, in fact. Every minute of every day I am assaulted by memories. Some are good, some are bad, some are embarrassing, and some are traumatic. Some are just dreams of a world that should be and isn’t. But I can’t shut then off, and they don’t fail to affect me.
The good memories are maybe the most traumatic, paradoxically, because they are things that are gone and may never come back. It seems as I age, there is a kind of plaque on my mind that mutes and dulls things, and I remember the crystal blue skies, and puffy clouds, and everything good from my childhood as so much more vivid than I ever see now. Not everything from my childhood was good, but what was good was very good.
I remember days when I would wake up in the morning and play outside literally all day. I would ride my little red wagon and tricycle, dig holes in the grass in the backyard, play with refrigerator boxes, just the basic things a child would do. Now I go outside, and the only reasons are to take a walk I have to for my health, or to get in the car and run an errand I have to run. All of the beauty, the fun, the enjoyment of life, is gone and has been for a very long time.
The loss of youth is particularly traumatic. Because it’s true that you never know what you had until you look back on it and realize that at some point it left, to be replaced by a jaded view of the world, where everything is aging and dying and a you have left are memories.
The memories aren’t all good. I don’t want to sound like an old man talking about the halcyon days of youth, where everything was perfect. It wasn’t. My parents were horrible, my life was mostly one of poverty, isolation, and neglect, I didn’t have very many friends, and was pretty much (and somewhat deservedly) the exact opposite of popular. But there were still moments of incredible beauty. And they’re gone.
Sometimes the air smells a certain way and everything within my heart is screaming with loss, of things that once were and are no longer, and it is enough to drive me into a depression that it is difficult to pull out of, because I’m not even sure what it is I’m yearning for. Is it youth? Is it safety? Is it innocence? I don’t honestly know. I can’t identify it. But I know it hurts, and I know that sometimes I would give absolutely everything to have it, even for a few minutes.
And the worst things by far are the memories that don’t exist, and are figments of my dreams and imagination. Impossibly bright green trees, impossibly clear blue skies, impossibly red sunsets, a beauty that is seemingly impossible to see with normal eyes. And every time I see one of these things, it never matches to the ideal, and there is an incalculable sense of loss. Why can’t the world be as it should be, as it is in my imagination, as it is in the imaginations of those artists and creatives who do such a wonderful job expressing those things? They always convince you that their product will give that to you, and that is a disappointment too, it’s always a disappointment. They use the beauty of mornings, the bright summer days, the sunsets, beautiful women, everything good and pure, to sell their product, and all you get is a product that may even do as they advertise.
The world is so disappointing. It never lives up to the memories, it never lives up to the dreams, it only lives up to disappointment.
I wish I could live in a world where there was no disappointment, where there were no bad memories, where there is no need to yearn for the past because the present is better. But what do we get?
This. We get this.