Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Remember Me Not?

One's memory is a very complex and precious gift. Over a lifetime, we store away so many different memories and experiences that make us who we are. Some of them are memories that we want to cherish forever and never forget. They are the moments that made us say, "I wish this would never end." Then, there are the memories we would rather not remember. They are the memories that are connected with some kind of negative experience that is laced with sadness, pain, humiliation, or something with an unpleasant undertone.

Have you ever wished you could forget (or even completely erase) a memory; maybe even a cluster of them? Have you ever wished that your recollection of an event, or a person, could totally vanish from your mind? I know I have! I doubt there is a single person out there that hasn't felt that way at one time or another. We all have people and things that we would like to forget. Wiping out the memories would mean wiping out whatever pain was caused.

That is the concept behind the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Joel and Clementine (played by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet) have apparently had a rough relationship. Clementine elects to have her memories of Joel erased. When he finds out about this, he elects to do the same. However, in his dream-like state during the procedure, he decides he doesn't want to let her go. He realizes that his decision was a hasty mistake and that even though it may hurt to deal with the memories, there are a lot of things he doesn't want to forget. Whether they were good or bad memories, they impacted him in some way that helped shape his life for the better. So, he tries everything he can to thwart the process and preserve what he can before the memories are gone.

Even though the procedure apparently worked on both of them, there seems to be a mysterious void that they can't explain. I suppose that that feeling of awkwardness and uncertainty would be maddening. I think we all have those moments where we feel like we should remember something or someone and can't. It's a very odd feeling when you feel like there is some kind of missing piece, but you don't know what it is. It's even worse if it's staring you in the face and you don't realize it (or realize it too late).

I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it, so I won't delve into it any further. All I will say is that you simply HAVE TO watch this movie! It's amazing, deep, thought provoking, and has a few surprises in it! It definitely has a lot of food for thought!

The thoughts I'm chewing on are probably the things that most people will be thinking to themselves after watching it. If erasing memories were a possibility, would I want to do it? Who or what would I want to erase? Is it even a wise idea in the first place? Who would I be and how would I be different if I did? I'll bet it would cause more problems than the ones I would think I was getting rid of (or hoping to avoid).

Wouldn't it be frustrating to not remember what made you who you are? It's hard enough to understand why we think, feel, and act the way we do. Imagine how much harder it would be to figure yourself out if you were missing some discarded pieces that would have given you insight into what molded you into who you are now!

It all boils down to pain. That's the only reason someone would want to forget something is because of heartache. Yet, forgetting or erasing something doesn't mean that it never happened. History can never be blotted out or rewritten. It happened. Period. And what is the purpose of history; any kind of history? It's to learn from it. More often than not, the hardest (but most valuable) lessons were the ones that came with a lot of pain. Was it unpleasant? Sure. Will it be worth it? Always. Even as I write that, I feel that I am lecturing myself. These past couple of years have been the most painful ones of my life and every day that I wake up, I have to remember that it's all real and that no amount of sleep can erase it. The reality of things plays out in my dreams at night sometimes. The sad part is, one can't just dismiss it as "just a dream" when it's just as real when you wake up. It's terrible when you feel that you can't escape a nightmare. Though, even if I could be like Joel or Clementine, it wouldn't change anything. My life would still be how it is, even if I couldn't remember how I got to this point. The only difference would be not remembering WHY I felt the way I felt; and it still wouldn't change anything in my personal history. The other downside would be the inability to learn from my experiences; both triumphs and failures. It would likely impair my ability to make better choices in the future and lead me to repeating my mistakes, creating fresh pain and regrets, and wishing I could erase all of that too.

The two verses that jumped out in my mind as I soaked in everything from the movie were these:

Jesus told them another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.  The owner’s servants came to him and said, "Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?" "An enemy did this," he replied. The servants asked him, "Do you want us to go and pull them up?" "No," he answered, "because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn." - Matthew 13:24-30

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28

In our lives, there are going to be lots of weeds. It's unavoidable; whether the weeds appear on their own, or they have extra "help" from an enemy. However, there is good seed as well. If we focus on the weeds, we are going to uproot the wheat. There's a silver lining to every cloud, right? A bad apple doesn't have to spoil the whole bunch. You don't have to throw the baby out with the bath water. Is this one old saying too many? Ever stop to think why there are old sayings (and why they continue on)? It's because someone somewhere learned a good lesson; and that lesson is being passed on. If we are wise, we'll learn from our mistakes; as well as the mistakes of others. THAT'S how we'll avoid the pain that we'll later wish we could forget!

NEVER FORGET that everything works out for good. That's His promise. There is a purpose that we have all been called to. The weeds and the wheat will both be there throughout our journey. Gleam what grain you can and don't let the weeds get you down. Don't dwell on them; toss them out when the time comes and feast on the harvest of good things! Grace and peace to all of you!!