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Isn’t it tormenting? We are barred from the past, unable to go back in time to relive an experience or change our performance. We seldom abandon our memories. Instead, we generate billions of alternate scenarios, replaying each fantasy in an endless loop. Perhaps if I had earned a higher score on that exam, I would be somewhere different right now. Perhaps if I had known that was the last I would ever see of him, I would have acted differently. We cling to each postulation, each powdered memory a scintilla of a tempestuous hearth. Our greatest fear is having our bonfire blown out like birthday candles, the imminent threat of being left with meager ashes of a person.
Every day, we are presented with exotic scenes, foreign conversations, promising faces, and unfamiliar names. Then we file these findings away, arranging and shuttling them into dusty boxes and bins. They become children’s toys: a forgotten doll, a lost teddy bear.
Time is our god. Always in pursuit of the next big thing, we hurtle through our schedules, often in a hasty and slapdash manner. Each day, memories haunt us. They seep into the crevices of our brains, nagging us as we sleep, rewinding as we lie sedentary. We are tantalized by the alternatives, the unknown. What could have been.
Flash forward a week. A month. A year. What happened to those toys, the ones we once treasured? They have rescinded farther and farther into the backs of our minds. But they aren’t gone. They now resemble ancient artifacts. So we dust them off, polishing each minute detail and coating them in shiny black lacquer. We begin to see things a little differently. We go backward in time. The retrospective lens puts our lives in context. Our world begins to spin again. Because by now, we’ve had more compelling conversations, learned richer words, and memorized brighter faces. We’ve learned.
Perhaps the most critical moment of the everyday is the systematic filing away of our ideas. Nothing truly dies. Perhaps the process of organization allows us to synthesize—we fuse our past with our present, filling the voids with what we know now. A litany of evidence, the indisputable, is interfaced with newfound prospects and revelations.
So keep kindling that fire. Fear not that it will ever dull its flame. Sit back and watch as the embers simmer, and know that its most radiant glow is yet to come.