When you read this, I will likely be on vacation–headed back to West Virginia to revisit wonderful old haunts from decades ago. What will have changed? I wonder. What will still be the same?
In our memories, our old homes and hangouts never change. Or maybe they do, as our memories are rarely photographic and our minds are often unreliable on details. The house I lived in on Jordan Run Road gets confused with the house I lived in on Fish Hatchery Road. I can’t be sure of the distances to landmarks around town. Yet, I know when I get to Petersburg, I’ll be able to drive to the Dairy Queen and Seneca Rocks, even if I can’t tell you how to get there. Odd, how our minds work with old information.
In many ways, we are the sum of our experiences, but even more we are the sum of our memories of our experiences. Our view of the past may be idealized or romanticized. We may remember only the highlights, the moments of excitement and pleasure. Or we may play the opposite game, and make the past out to be a horrible place to live, and remember only the worst of it.
I’ve found the truth to be more complicated. The best times in our lives had a day or two of boredom or anxiety and the worst times had one supportive friend, a nice day at the beach or a realization that paved the way to a valuable change. I remember that when I compare notes with someone else and find their memories don’t quite jive with my own.
We may be unable to change our past, but we can change the way we interpret and understand that past. It can be a valuable exercise to revisit and see where we are in relation to the person we used to be. We come to understand ourselves better when we make that connection.
I’ll do a bit of that, as I camp in Dolly Sods Wilderness and drive through familiar–but not quite the same–landscapes and towns and I used to know so well.
May you have some quality time before the rush of fall begins to reconnect with yourself and understand a little better.
In faith and freedom, Jonalu