Two weeks ago I spent a few days on an island, by the sea. A good friend of mine has a place right next to a beautiful lagoon and steps away from the beach, and she gracefully invited me over for a little retreat. I spent a great deal of time in peaceful contentment – swimming while watching the sunset, reading in hammocks, and just marvelling at the harmless, vast beauty of turquoise waters, which at some point of the horizon transitioned into a deep blue, with white frothy waves surging towards me … it all felt very ‘Cast Away’ (minus the fugly beard, psychotic ball friend and rotting teeth).
It reminded me of one of my earliest memories of my life. That memory was vague, patchy and colourless – I remember a sea, waves, my Mother’s face, and some fish. My Mother would later tell me that this was perhaps a moment in Merdeka Beach when we went there for a picnic and I was around 3. There used to be a lot of fish swimming by its shores. She also mentioned me in a diaper, but that is hardly fashionable so let’s skip that.
It then brought me to think about how people are embedded into our memories. By unintentional actions or choice, ones that come into our lives will inevitably find a mould into our minds where they sit there unencumbered as a snapshot of life, just like my Mother’s twenty six year-old face in my first recoverable memory. It is then safe to say, whether we like it or not, that we are bound to live forever in someone else’s mind, even after we are long gone, whether it be due to change, circumstance or cruel time.
The fact that we will all go away someday, that our days are numbered before we remain as only fragments of fading memory to others, highlights a simple but often forgotten question in life. The question is this – were we ever brave enough to go for that exciting but unfamiliar choice, or did we spend the rest of our lives just worrying what others may think of us and trying to fit it? Did we coward out too soon and missed out on our chance for a truly amazing life adventure? If it doesn’t scare you, it will never change you. And not changing at all? Well, then we’re missing the whole point.
Being aware that we are destined to be a part of someone else’s memory is also sometimes intimidating. It makes one realize that this only leaves us with either one of two choices – we can either choose to be a good or a bad memory to someone else. This in turn affects how we see our actions in everything. Did I thank my Father? Did I smile at that stranger? Did I make you feel understood? How would you remember me, if at all, years from now?
By the end of the day, as the sun set at the polar opposite side of where I saw it rise that morning, it began to dawn on me that there really isn’t a prefix to that trail of thought. The simple fact is, someday, we will all be gone, only to remain as eternal pieces scattered in the minds of others. Someday, we will all just be a memory, so let’s strive to be a good one.