Elegy for agony
“We cannot say who will survive the holocaust of memory.”
Avoidance is the easy way out. When something entices you, creates a drive in you, courage would push you towards it, no matter the cost. Taking a chance on something — love, opportunity, uncertainty — always has a cost. Even if what you are paying with is your own peace. But what’s the alternative?
Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles felt like a requiem from the start. As a reader, whoever I am going to encounter in this story, I will love them by the time I finish it. And even more, I will remember them.
Memories are mere thoughts, yet memories make us. The paths we choose to take, the ways we choose to act, the values we choose to hold, are all built upon all that we have ever known. If we were to be completely devoid of our current memories, we would be different people.
“I am made of memories.”
Some memories we don’t choose to keep, they sort of just linger around the deep, at times hovering closer to the surface, forcing us to remember, until they are pushed back in. Many will float down deeper and melt away with the water, but others stay, making homes for themselves until it’s time to come back to the surface again.
Remembrance, therefore, is a grand — albeit private — act of love. It involves conscious work to keep a thought of something or someone alive and tending to it. It’s lonely work and the only one who reaps the benefit, a chance to relive a past time, is yourself.
Dear memories cultivate colorful homes in the waters of our thoughts, so long as the act of remembering them offers solace. What once are happy memories may be remembered not so happily, though. Especially if it’s of something we don’t (or can’t) have anymore. If that’s the case, then it’s as if we are left in place, suddenly, by the things we are so used to hold on to.
Reminiscence becomes longing. Solace becomes agony.
“And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone.”
At the very least, we have our memories.