“Perhaps someday it will be pleasant to remember even this” (Virgil).
OUR CHARACTERS ARE DETERMINED NOT SO MUCH BY OUR ABILITY TO FORESEE THE FUTURE AS BY OUR WILLINGNESS TO APPRECIATE THE PAST. Much that has happened in the world, and even in our own experience, needs to be remembered, and wise people are those who’ve learned which remembrances to hold on to.
Whoever we are and whatever kind of life we’ve led, it’s likely that some of our greatest treasures are in the form of memories. There are things in our past that need to be recalled from time to time and appreciated for their value. If we let go of these recollections, we also let go of our gratitude for them. And the good life is simply impossible without generous measures of gratitude for blessings in the past.
Yet when we use the word “remembrances,” we often have in mind something more than mere memories. Remembrances are mementos, physical objects that remind us of things that have happened and the people with whom they’re associated. It’s a good thing to be surrounded with remembrances of this sort. On my desk are three chinquapins brought back from a recent visit to my ancestral homeland in Pike County, Arkansas. By my door stands a walking stick bought in a shop in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It does me good to pick up objects like these. The physical touch of them reconnects me to wonderful places and times and people.
“Remembrances” are also gestures that tell other people that we remember important things about them. If you send someone a birthday card, for example, they may thank you for the “remembrance.” But we can do a lot more than send birthday cards. Every day we are given many opportunities to do small, creative things that say to others simply, “I remember.” To remember people in this way is to honor them.
We need to be people who know what “remembrances” are and what their value is in our lives. If we’re so busy that we have no time to remember, or if we’re so “current” that the past means nothing to us, we’re in danger of losing the larger perspective that makes life meaningful. We must “remember” that “now” is not all that matters.
I cannot but remember such things were,
That were most precious to me.