The Joy of Memory

Every man’s memory is his private literature.”
~ Aldous Huxley

In a recent guest post on Lori Gosselin’s wonderful blog, Life, for instance, I wrote of memory and the role it plays as a benchmark in our lives, acting to motivate, inspire and guide us through the bumpy parts of living. You can read about by clicking on the title: What Childhood Memory has Influenced You Most?

This is a follow-up post to the one you can find at Lori’s site, mainly linking it here to M2bH. But there is still more to be said about the power of memory. There are three that stand out above the rest that continue to influence my life and thinking even to this day.

Three memories that helped shape the man I am today

We all have memories that mold us as we grow. They play an important role in our lives, helping us make sense of life and our surroundings. They help us piece the puzzles of modern living together, providing us with an interpretive framework. Three childhood memories stand out to me as particularly instructive.

1. Playing hooky with mom

When I was in elementary school my mom would take each of us boys (there were three of us) out of school, one at a time, once a month to spend one-on-one time with us. Visit Life-for instance to finish that story and see how it shaped my sense of significance and self-worth.

2. Saturday morning work

Every Saturday morning my dad woke us up early to get started on another weekend of work: Sweeping the backyard, cleaning the pool, mowing the lawn (usually the neighbor’s lawn as well), trimming trees, cleaning the garage, re-roofing the house, scraping, sanding, painting, washing, waxing, trimming …

What it taught me: I know how to work. I have found over the course of my 46 years of life that there are a whole lot of lazy people looking to just get by. There is something deeply invigorating about work. Some people’s attitude about a day of hard work is resentment and frustration and exhaustion. Thankfully, that’s not me.

How it’s influenced my life: I get more done. I actually get energized when I work. I get into this flow that drives me forward. I enjoy working. I didn’t then, but I get a kick out of accomplishing a task, of completing something I worked hard to complete now. People who work out know that there is both a bad hurt (injury) and a good hurt (the burn of progress). There is a good and bad tired as well. But the lazy only feel the bad tired because they look at work as an enemy, a thing to drudge through to the weekend. And that’s too bad.

3. Playing sports

I began my athletic life at about age five … some of it willingly. It all started with swim. Then there was soccer, baseball, basketball, water polo, karate, tae kwon do, wrestling. Some were short-lived (basketball, wrestling), others I played throughout my developing years and even into high school (soccer, swim). One was started as a young adult (martial arts).

What it taught me: Books have been written about what we learn from sports. The three lessons that most affected me are:

  1. the drive to improve
  2. how to lose gracefully
  3. how to win graciously.

How it’s influenced me: I think I do a fairly good job approaching most of life with those three attitudes: working hard to learn and grow as a father, husband, teacher, blogger. When I stumble, I jump back up and rarely grouse about it much. And when I win, I share the spoils, thanking others who were instrumental in the accomplishment.

We all have these memories stored up inside of us, memories that often leak out into our daily living, memories of conditions or events or circumstances that have helped shape us as people, as parents, as employers and employees, as human beings trying our best to make a difference.

What are your memories and how do they affect you today?

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