Okay, I’m not talking about memory tests here: did I remember to get something out of the freezer, or someone’s birthday. Those things are really recall – did I keep that in the front of my mind.
I’m talking about those memories that pop up sometimes because something reminds us of them. For example, we may hear a song on the radio, or see an old-fashioned sweet in a shop, or watch a programme about a place we have visited. This is rich remembering for several reasons.
It tends to have detail that we weren’t conscious of absorbing at the time. So a song may make us think of particular people, places, moods and feelings. Or a sweet may evoke a whole period of our childhood.
Remembering also gives us a chance to review the significance of things in our past. It may have seemed catastrophic at the time, yet now we can laugh at it. or it may have seemed unimportant, yet now we can see how it helped us to grow in some way or played a part in a bigger pattern in our lives.
Remembering is putting things back together, joining them up. It means that we put singular events into a bigger context, the context of our whole lives till now.
Remembering helps us to value and understand who we are and how we’ve developed. It helps us to let ourselves i=off, so we don’t feel bad about things in our past: ‘I was only a youngster’, or ‘that was pretty awful, no wonder I felt like that’.
And above all, it can be delightful to remember times when we felt happy, had fun, enjoyed our lives – it brings back those same feelings.
So enjoy those times when you reminisce, on your own or with others, and even prompt it sometimes to remind yourself of the richness of your life.