What is your first memory?
An unusual question – an older cousin first asked me this after completing a psychology course in college. But it was many years later, before the answer came to me of its own accord.
It was just a few years ago actually – when I had a random flashback of a scene that didn’t quite make sense. It was of my 2nd birthday. But instead of daylight festivities, I remembered my mom waiting until after dark to cut my cake, and to celebrate at all.
To add to my confusion, I had absolutely no memory of my biological father being present at the time.
Checking the Validity
It was for that very reason that I mistrusted the memory. By then, I had completed psychology courses as well, and knew all about how present situations can ‘change’ or ‘fix’ what we think we remember.
It’s been ten years since I cut my biological father out of my life. So I thought… maybe my present situation had somehow erased him from that memory. After a year or so of going back and forth with myself about it, I decided to ask my mother.
“Why do you even remember that?” she asked me.
Mom then explained that we had waited that late, because she had hoped her husband would come home to celebrate his daughter’s birthday. We had waited, and waited, and waited.
But hours went by – and he never came home.
Eventually, she decided we should celebrate alone. The next day, my father still didn’t come home. Or the next. And perhaps – not the one after that, either.
I share this to remind us all that people never forget. No matter how young the wrong was done, and even if it remains buried in our subconscious for twenty years, people never forget – so treat them well.
My goal this year is to not just do good by those I love, but to do good by myself. I want to make memories this year that I will want to remember twenty years from now. Memories that overshadow less pleasant things like absentee fathers and delayed birthdays.
I encourage you all to do the same, because far too many people make it to their deathbeds, realising that they haven’t lived enough. According to a Huffington Post article from 2013:
5 of the Biggest Regrets People have on their Deathbeds are:
- I wish I had lived the life I wanted, and not the life others expected me to live.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so much.
- I wish I had said what I felt to those who needed to hear it.
- I wish I had kept in touch with my friends.
- I wish I had chosen to live a happier life.
Life is short, and the unfortunate fact is that some of us won’t make it through 2016. So do more than just survive this year.
Make it a point to live.
Have a great week guys!
Originally published January 11, 2016.