"Memories are meant to fade. They're designed that way for a reason." --- James Cameron, Strange Days
I have a memory in my head that feels so real. It was present in my childhood, and I would have sworn up and down that it actually happened, that I actually experienced it. But, now I am not so sure it happened, particularly since the context in which I place the memory doesn't fit. And, if I concentrate on it too hard, it becomes a thorny, pervasive itch in my brain.
The memory goes like this: I am a small child and watching television, a cartoon. In the cartoon, a skeletal figure in a top hat rises comically into the air from a pumpkin patch and starts to dance and float around in the night sky.
But, as I watch episode after episode, I see no scene with Firestar's lasso of flame. I didn't see it in the episode I was expecting it to be in: "The Quest of the Red Skull." And, so my casual viewing becomes an obsessive hunt to find this scene because I KNOW it exists. It is NOT going to be like the dancing skeleton memory and taunt me for the rest of my days.
How could I have missed it before? Was I expecting it to be more obvious? Did I simply blink? Turn away at that moment? Or, go to the bathroom?
On a more serious note, this mental exercise/obsession did cause me to ponder the substance of memory. I have nothing profound or even particularly new to say on the matter, but I am fascinated with how memories develop and change over time, how we polish and freshen the happy memories and tarnish the bad ones. A great concert you attend was never as good as how you remember it. And a moment of devastating hurt was never as bad as when you replay it in your mind. Our imaginations always mingle with the remembered facts of an experience, adding and subtracting to the emotional strength of the memory.
I know. Not exactly an innovative thought. And one that perhaps oversimplifies the process we need to go through when dealing with a loss. But, I do feel this is an important component in escaping the renewed pain brought on by memories and the sadistic way our minds will obsess over them. Like that dancing skeleton from my childhood memories, remembered pain can mock us with its insistence and lack of closure. And, the only thing I've ever known to help is the building of new memories of happiness, something to not only make us feel better but free us from the obsessive chains of hurt and grief.