I remember going outside on a hot summer day. With my velcro strap shoes on and an oversized t-shirt, I ran to my favorite climbing tree. It was a pine tree in our front yard right next to a post and rail wooden fence. The ground was carpeted in a bed of pines and twigs. The lowest hanging branch was just the height for me to wrap my arms around and pull myself up. I could see the surrounding suburban neighborhood of my cul-de-sac as I weaved myself through the branches. Summer birds chirping and the smell of pine and sap are more vivid than recent memories.
Last night I looked through some photos I had on an external hard-drive. I stumbled on them by accident while I was looking for some old work. While looking through them, I was flooded with a feeling of nostalgia. A vast sprawl of half-remembered people, events and emotions. How can anyone piece together a coherent shape of the past?
The details of our memory are often fragmented. Muddled together images and feelings that try and form an inaccurate glimpse of a moment. It seems like all these events were mixed in a pot and you only recognize bits and pieces. The thing you’re most sure of are the emotions felt now looking back.
The details may be fuzzy, but I remember carrying around my rock collection in my school backpack. Keeping my favorite puzzles together stacked on pieces of cardboard under my bed. My sister tripping on a jump rope in our neighbors driveway and breaking her arm. Playing hide-and-go-seek in our cul-de-sac as soon as it got dark. My brother and I sleeping over at our friends house so we could eat his cereal in the morning.
Now that I have children of my own, I think about their experiences and how they’ll remember them. They’ll look back at days in the park, trips to the beach and rainy days playing inside. My daughters will have each other to reminisce about these times over a hot beverage just as I do now with my brother and sisters.
So write down how you feel, take a picture of today and hold tightly the ones you love. Do what you can to preserve every important moment and share them. Maybe on your leisure, when you close your eyes and have a moment to reflect, you’ll be climbing a tree too.