“My favorite metaphor for memories is the beach.” (VIA FLICKR)


I spend a lot of time thinking about memories. There are people who say that I shouldn’t dwell on the past, and should instead look to the future, but I know that they’re really the same thing. Time is an illusion; who I am shapes who I’ve been and who I will be, and self-reflection always faces inwards, but can face forwards or backwards, to who you’ve been or who you will be. Just as it’s important to think about who you want to be, it’s important to think about who you’ve been so far. It is impossible to constructively build off of a foundation that you don’t understand. Like a monumental game of Jenga, you have to take out the memories, examine them, and build upon them until you’re content with who you are. And even then, you should keep building, because that doesn’t mean you’re done yet.

[quote_center]It is impossible to constructively build off of a foundation that you don’t understand.[/quote_center]

My favorite metaphor for memories is the beach. Like sand, they can slip through your fingers, too insubstantial to leave a lasting impression, or some memories remain long after you’ve tried to rinse them off. Like the ocean, they are temperamental, a mix of calm waters and rough waves inside everyone’s minds, tides washing in and out as moods and thoughts change. There are lifeguards around to help if you find yourself drowning in the water, and while sometimes the beach is quiet, it’s rare that someone isn’t nearby. Your life always brushes against someone else’s.

When I try to think of the happiest I’ve ever been, I’m out on the open water. Sometimes I’m riding the back of a wave-runner, the spray of the ocean stinging my eyes, the tears more out of unbridled joy than of pain; I wonder if that is what freedom feels like. Sometimes I’m standing at the bow of a speedboat, looking down into the water and wondering what I would see if it was clearer. Sometimes I’m watching dolphins diving in and out of the boat’s wake. Sometimes I’m drinking iced tea and feeling the power of the boat beneath my feet, wondering if this is what freedom feels like. The elation that rises in my chest when I’m out over the water is unmatched by any other memory; perhaps that’s why memories make me think of beaches.

I haven’t been to the beach in three years. I wonder if that’s why I don’t remember what freedom feels like.