Our memories are emotional snapshots of a single moment in our lives. They may evolve around events, people or places. We take those memories and we colour them with years of handling and layering with bits and pieces of detail and meaning.
Those memories that make us yearn with an aching need to recapture what once was, cannot ever be found again by simply returning to the scene of the snapshot. It has nothing to do with a place or even really the people. It has to do with the emotions we felt in a moment during the journey of our life. Often, the very process of trying to recreate what was, shatters it forever. Somehow the idea that we could return is a greater comfort than the failed attempt to do exactly that.
Going back leads us to stand in our past. What we saw and knew as a child is often explained. The magic is lost and our own growth and understanding lend shading and depth to it that we see now because we have matured and are now capable of understanding. The huge tree we used to climb almost to the sky, where we would sit for hours, is actually a pretty average old tree of no real consequence. Our first kiss can never be re-experienced because everything in that moment was coloured with the sensory overload of new emotions. The very air we breathed seemed full of promises and all the hopes and dreams of our expectations and imaginings not only heighten our interpretations of the event as it happened, but also as we thought about it later. A first kiss from someone we loved is very different from a first kiss from someone we are not at all attracted to. The difference is not in the kiss, it is in the meaning we attach to it. Those layers of meaning are not real in the sense that they exist independent of our producing them and applying them to the event, and they are not static. Continue reading