The other day, I lost one of my favorite bracelets. I looked everywhere for it, yet as I paced up and down the streets of West Hollywood, I eventually came to terms with the fact that the bracelet was no longer mine. I went along with my day and began looking for new bracelets online, because it was that easily replaceable. I have begun to ponder this idea quite often– how basically everything is replaceable in our lives. Everything but our memories.
With a quick search online and a click of a button, my bracelet was replaced and the old one became something that I used to have. I no longer think back and wish I still had the bracelet, but instead I look down at my wrist and see a beautiful new bracelet in its place. Why is it that memories cannot work in the same way? How come no matter how much time passes, the second you hear a specific name, memories with them rush through your mind?
Oftentimes, when I think back on memories with those no longer a part of my life, I feel an urge to reach out just to tell them I miss them. Thinking and reminiscing for even a minute can melt away the hard shell I’ve spent months or even years trying to build in order to protect myself. In a matter of minutes, when thinking back to a happy time with someone, I find myself reminiscing on how much happiness they added to my life. These kinds of memories bring me seconds of heartache yet create a lasting moment of serenity, and in a sense, generates a rewind button. Though I am constantly connecting with new and unique individuals, the memories created with someone from my past cannot be replaced. Even if I attempt to replace the memory with a new person—by going to the same restaurant or dancing to the same special song together—the memories of doing those activities with the original person the memory was created with cannot be replaced.
I have often wished that I could replace the people I have loved and lost with as much acceptance as I could replace anything else in life, like a piece of jewelry. I have grown frustrated with the difficulties within me to fully allow someone who I loved out of my life. And time and time again, I have wondered, why? If this person no longer serves the purpose of making you a better and happier person, why is it so difficult to let them and the moments shared between you two leave your life and your mind? I’ve come to realize it is usually not solely because of the person you are losing, but more the idea of having to accept that you will no longer be creating new memories with that individual. So, while people can be replaced, the memories created with them cannot.
Sometimes I wish that memories were replaceable too, in the sense that I could be able to let go of the memories and let go of missing the moments shared with that person. I don’t really think that part gets easier, no matter how much time passes. You can meet another amazing person, yet no matter what, they cannot replace the memories you hold with another. However, as I mature, it is becoming easier to see that the memories created with those no longer in our lives help to shape the memories with new people entering our lives. Maybe it truly is a blessing that even if we are letting someone go from our lives, we get to hold the memories shared between us forever. The moments between the two of us cannot be erased or forgotten. As painful as that can be, it is also a beautiful way to keep the person’s energy alive in our minds eternally.
So as I look down at the piece of jewelry comfortably hugging my wrist, I begin to recognize how special it is that I am able to replace so many parts of what makes me look like me with such ease. By being able to replace the minuscule parts of what contributes to our outward image, we can focus on accepting and appreciating the fact that we can’t replace what contributes to our inward image. We can change our thoughts and our motives, but at the end of the day we cannot alter our pasts or the impact our memories hold within us. Each memory helps to shape who we are and allows there to be more space for love to enter our lives more freely and over time, hopefully, more effortlessly.
“Memory is a record of your personal experience. It is a record of trial and error, defeat and success. Past failures will warn you against repeating them.” – Wilfred Peterson