Somethings Worth Missing
Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing the whole “human experience” thing right. The concern usually arises when I'm expected to reminisce and recall specific memories. Ones that some people take for granted.
The catalyst is often an innocent question.
“What's your earliest memory?”
I never know how to answer such a question. I have only the vaguest recollections from kindergarten, let alone anything before. Is there any utility to pushing myself closer to the beginning of my own timeline? I don't see the point, but am I alone?
These days life moves at the speed of light. And I'm on a particular ray, weaving in and out of traffic and doing all I can to keep from crashing and burning—aren't we all? One day my road will come to a dead end and I don't know how many miles I have left. But I can't see the hazards in front of me if I'm looking back at the obstacles and triumphs and failures of my past.
Why am I reluctant to dig deeper? Is my avoidance a coping mechanism? Like my dark and self-deprecating sense of humor? I wouldn't rule it out.
Has my past experience of grief and accompanying depression eaten away my memory or somehow erected a barrier somewhere in my mind just tall enough to discourage scaling it? At times either of these explanations feels possible.
Photo courtesy of Patrick Hendry on Unsplash
Do I shy away because I don't like the old me? And who wants to go out of his way to visit someone whose company he does not enjoy?
Is it because I know that people as a whole misremember far more than they are aware? Sadly, this acknowledgment of weakness in human behavior does not make me immune. How accurate are the stories I've told myself over the past 35 years?
Sometimes, when writing about formative and intimate events such as the loss of my parents, I ask myself, Is that really how it happened? If I question life-changing events that have haunted me for nearly a decade, it makes sense to question memories older and rarely recalled.
But the memories are still there, waiting to surface when the time is right. When a movie or a book or a song hits the right note. When someone else shares a certain type of anecdote. When certain birthdays or holidays or anniversaries come up. In these moments, I can feel the memories even if I can't articulate them. They're there. Somewhere.
Maybe I don't want to look back because certain memories are too painful. Or maybe certain memories are so joyous that remembering and acknowledging the impossibility of ever reliving them is in fact a source of pain. That's the thing about grief: Whether you're grieving someone deceased or a failed relationship or loss of job or status—whatever the case—the feelings of loss and the resulting pain are a product of past success or happiness.
Grief is a reminder of the good thing we once had. Some people don't grieve because they haven't lost anything worth grieving yet. But is it possible that some people do not grieve because they have never had anything worth missing?
During my time in West Texas, I made some great friends. We were an awesome foursome, all working in the same industry and simply fond of each other's company. We would often attend networking events together and hang out with each other the whole time, which defeated the purpose of going out of our ways to attempt to network with other people.
I was the first to move away. A few months later, another moved to Austin. A pair is still there. They meet for lunch or drinks every once in a while. We all catch up with each other from time to time. But it's not the same. And it never will be. And when I talk about that friend group, I usually close by declaring I'll never have friends like that again. But I don't say it to be a downer. I say it with appreciation for the moments that were. I got lucky once by making such friends as I approached my thirties, a time when your friendships are pretty much written in stone. I do not expect to get so lucky again.
Similar feelings arise when I think about the deceased I've grieved and will continue to grieve. All that I miss—the funny moments and inside jokes, the support, the lessons, the familiarity on so many levels—are gone and can't come back. My deceased and the relationships we had cannot be replaced. That hurts to admit.
But at least I've experienced somethings worth missing. And for that I'm grateful.