I often sit and wonder about why things are the way they are and why we are the way we are. What I’ve come to understand is that we are made up of events, experiences, and memories. These three things have more emphasis on our lives than we give them credit for. We always step back and attribute both good and bad things to the people surrounding us, but what we forget, is that the events, experiences, and memories we create with those people are the crux of who we are.
Events: Things that happen to us can change our lives forever. Imagine, one beautiful and breezy 4th grade day you are walking around the corner; hand grazing the uneven ridges and grooves of the clay-baked bricks, carefully avoiding the half-rotten wooden beams in the middle of the walkway for fear of breaking your mother’s back, and dreamily envisioning battles of epic proportions amidst the clouds. “BOO!” All of a sudden you are jolted back to reality by the most terrifying sound you’ve ever heard in your 9 years of life. Before your brain can catch up to your body, your eyes begin to water and tears stream down your face. “Cry baby, cry baby, who’s the cry baby” chants the dirt-clad and snot-dripping 5th grader bully whom you think lives purely to make your life a living hell. Mortified at your body’s reaction your mind tries to come up with a clever retort “Uh…I got dirt in my eye.” He doesn’t believe you. You don’t even believe you. You run away, head hanging in shame, hot angry tears coursing down your cheeks. The bully watches your run away, partly excited his taunts caused a reaction and part bewildered for the same exact reason; he’s found the weakest link. You.
Experiences: What we take from those events directly affects us. I understand that people say “you can break the chain. Be your own person. Don’t let past events shape you.” That is impossible. Of course events shape us as people. The things we learn from those events, however minuscule or profound, stay with us forever in the form of experience. Trudging home from school one autumn day whilst in the 12th grade, you see a bright yellow school bus pass you by; its bumblebee like colors transport you to last summer at your grandmother’s. Days filled with more flowers than the eye can see, soft green grass that tickles your toes, melting ice pops in the shape of Tweety bird’s head, and sunsets so lovely it makes you happy to be alive engross your mind. The sudden singing of “Cry baby, cry baby, who’s a cry baby” assaults your senses and sends you back to that horrible 4th grade day. The event was in the past, and the bully had moved; however, the aftershock of being bullied for the rest of that year were deeply ingrained into your brain. You quickly rush across the street to the child’s aid and proceed to scold the taunting children. The bullied child looks up at you with adoring eyes and gives you a hug so fierce it leaves you breathless.
Memories: Memories are the things we look back on when events and experiences begin to blur together or become completely evasive. When you wonder why you are in a certain career that you don’t ever remember liking. When you stare at the profile of your spouse in the middle of the night and try to figure out what was it exactly that made you so crazy about them. When you are sitting across from your aging parents and have so much love in your heart it almost bursts. Memories are what keep us going down a certain path. As Edward de Bono says “A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.” Pounding on the front door of a dilapidated building you harden your heart towards what you may find inside. As you and your partner break the door down and run up the stairs the stench of starvation and broken dreams violates your nose. You try in vain for fresh air, but the pure misery around you is impossible to escape. You scour the rooms for survivors and come across a half-open door; inside you find a rust stained tub with mold and other indescribable bacteria surrounding it, a make-shift toilet filled with decay and hovering flies sits inside of the tub, and in the corner, barely discernible in rags is the withered and emaciated body of a child. You call out to him and a pair of barely conscious grateful eyes greet you. You rush over to the child and when he looks at you again, you’re hit with the memory of the bullied child all those years ago; the bullied child that made clear your life’s path to you…to help the helpless.
Moral of the story: The events we are a part of, the experiences we gain from those events, and the memories we forge because of both make us who we are. They become part of our soul, as imperative to our existences as the very breath we take.
Stay classy dear readers.
P.S. I just realized that journey I described is similar to this! Who remembers “I’m Just a Bill” from Schoolhouse Rock!?: