I remember a few years back listening to Roger Clemens, the dominant pitcher who was accused of using steroids that he misremembered some facts and dates in his life. I remember thinking at the time how stupid the idea of misremembering was. How can you misremember? Clearly a case of lying. You either remember or you lie in order to cover something up. Now, I am not suggesting Roger Clemens is innocent or guilty of anything, I am simply building some context.
This morning I listened to an episode of Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell called Free Brian Williams and I’ve learned that our memories are not as reliable as we believe them to be.
I was never naive that we have perfect, detailed memories of all the things that have said and done, or were done to us, but was never really aware that our memories are not stagnant. I was not aware that we often add to our memories, we change details, move things around as we learn more about ourselves and the world around us. We do this so often and so stealth like that sometimes, we misremember, if not utterly lie to ourselves, which is why there is a degree of danger in examining the mistakes we’ve made.
You and I will make lots of mistakes in our life time. We will continue to make them. We will experience one form of failure after another, and it’s our memories that help us or imprison us. They help us to never forget and that’s just it. If you don’t have a good memory of something, you are very likely to get the wrong idea and make decisions or assumptions which will be misdirected and lead you to where you don’t want to go.
Failure is an event, it is not a person, yet we very often call ourselves losers, believe we are not good and that our lives have been nothing short of a failure. Failure is an event. It is but a solitary moment in time, and all we take with us is the memory of that moment. But you can see where I am going with this. When we take that memory with us, and it we change it over time anyway, why don’t we try to change that memory consciously, by just choosing to do things differently today. Why don’t we just shape our own reality? Why don’t we just manifest our own future?
I am suggesting that we forget taking stock or taking credit for any of the mistakes we have made, and that instead we treat every future event as an opportunity untainted and untouched by mistakes. I am suggesting that we respect every future event for its wealth of infinite possibilities.
It is possible that you have misremembered who you are and what you want out of life. It is very probably that you see yourself far worse than anyone else that knows you well. Chances are that you are far more beautiful than the face staring at you in the mirror each morning. You are healthier than you believe. You have far more talent than you care to admit. You have achieved great things which you don’t care to talk about, and the life in front of you is brimming with promise.
You can spend the rest of today, looking back and revisiting old woulds and restructuring your fallible memories until you get tired and fall asleep. Or you can spend the rest of your day dreaming and taking steps towards things that you’ve always wanted. Perhaps you can spend the rest of your day being who you want to be, and designing instead of regretfully pining.
Cover photo generously provided by photographer Brandon Mowinkel via unsplash.com