I’ve been going through my old computer files recently and came across my old journal that I wrote from ’98 to ’00. This was the time when my study abroad in Spain was ending and I spent two years studying at OSU before leaving for France. After this period my journal writing took a nose dive and never recovered. I still wrote on rare occasions but instead of a journal I wrote in my online blog. Since a blog is public I censured myself pretty heavily and only wrote what I was comfortable letting loose on the internet. The bad news for me is my personal thoughts and feelings were thus not written down and lost forever.
Rediscovering old memories was fun but it was the long forgotten emotions and feelings resurrecting themselves with such force that kept me reading almost half of the entire journal in one sitting! I had quite forgotten the emotions that girlfriends caused, the anxiety over passing tests and a fear of closing a very big chapter in my life and facing an unknown future.
It came as a shock to me to read and remember how influential and powerful the relationship with various girlfriends affected my mood! Many of the entries make me want to reach into the past and smack myself! Three girls in particular caused such drama that it seems every entry over a certain period of time is about them and they had me strapped into an emotional roller coaster.
I wish I could send a message to myself as I wrote those entries letting myself know that I’ll win in the long run. I would say, “Younger me, you still haven’t discovered Asia. Have patience and your wildest dreams will come true. Soon you won’t have to put up with bitchy, self absorbed, white chicks anymore.” It sounds a bit cruel to say but you have to understand that these three caused me a lot of grief and I’m fresh of the reading of my journal where I’m mad at myself for putting up with such nonsense!
The interesting thing is I still remain in contact with those three. In fact, I remain in contact with just about everyone. I treasure the experiences I’ve had and I treasure the relationships that were made. I often say that “Mateo never forgets,” and I’m certain that the people I say this to have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.
The meaning of that phrase is I remember my life, experiences and friends exceptionally well. I not only remember the event but I remember my mindset at the time and pretty much how I felt at that time. I find that others my age may remember the event but over time it simply becomes a faded memory. The memory recorded a full featured Imax movie with stereo sound but as time passes the memory fades into a damaged black and white Kodak picture.
It is quite easy to remember something from the past but it is not so easy to bring back the feelings and emotions and to feel them as intensively as they were. I find that the smell of a familiar scent weather it be a perfume, freshly cut grass or even an old classroom will bring a flood of memories. Of all the senses, the sense of smell is the most powerful for reviving memories. After that I would say sound such as suddenly hearing an old song is the second most powerful followed by sight.
One clear example that vividly illustrates people my age forgetting their past is simply trying to reconnect with old friends on Facebook. In some instances it feels the same as though they were strangers and sometimes even more difficult than a stranger would be! Why is that? Because they have forgotten the experiences, they have forgotten the feelings and no emotional connection remains to the times we shared. I feel as though I’m one of the very few who can revive those emotions. I remember clearly that we were friendly in high school and can approach others as though no time has passed at all. It is my experience that most will shy away. Only the outgoing and extroverts will enthusiastically engage in a re-connection.
Perhaps a reason for their forgetfulness is that they don’t want to remember. Lives change quite dramatically over a decade or two and it could be that the few who are able to remember the high school or college experience fully simply don’t wish to. They now have families, responsibilities and may feel uncomfortable remembering youthful, carefree events that occurred before. I don’t have that problem with it personally. In fact, I love to strain my memory and try to bring back memories and emotions as clearly as possible. I find that alcohol and music from those times gone by are an excellent combination to revive old memories. Actually I’m trying right now with music and tobacco free pouches. Unfortunately I chewed “dip” when writing in my journal over a decade ago and although I won’t touch the stuff again I thought it would help jog my memory and really get writing if I tried to mimic my habit with the tobacco free stuff.
But to get back on point, some people may be uncomfortable with their own past. They prefer to leave what is past in the past. To me, I find this extremely wasteful and sad. The experience of being alive is a most incredible event! Why would one want to purposely forget a very intense, exciting part of it? I’m referring now to the high school and college days when life was changing very rapidly and with an intensity that most likely will never be felt again. I find that people who really want to forget their past are equally as likely to want to forget their present as well which of course does not bode well for the future.