Seeing Memories Through a New Lense

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted in response to a nonfiction essay I submitted last year. The essay’s status fell to the bottom of my pile when 12 months passed since submission.
Yet, an email popped in explaining the delay and telling me the essay on how my parents met would be published in an anthology in 2016. Still some minor adjustments were needed. These “fixes” sent me digging through boxes of memories. You do keep your memories in boxes, don’t you?

Photo by jarmoluk (Pixabay)
Photo by jarmoluk (Pixabay)

I quickly found what I was looking for, but the minutes and hours slipped by as I got caught up in examining other items in the box. An interesting thing happened while digging the day away. I remembered how things had happened in the past, generally. But I sensed something different.

As I sifted through memories, I sensed a shift, a change. An awareness of something different.

The change is in the value placed on memories when seeing them through a new lens.

Photo by Pezibear (Pixabay)
Photo by Pezibear (Pixabay)

For me, the new lens is the passage of time. Cousins, nieces, and nephews look so young and small in the images now yellowing in the box. Handwriting so solid and steady in old letters and cards now looks less solid and steady. Has it been that long?

Sadly, some of the memories are of times spent with family and friends now gone. Images of visits to their homes in the last three decades bring back cherished childhood memories as well. Has it been that long?

Each memory found, seen through a new lens, and tucked back in the box will be the basis for a post here, an essay submitted somewhere, or the genesis for a second book.

An absolute treasure trove awaits us as each few years pass by. We grow older (sorry, but we do!). We grow wiser and sometimes forgetful. We experience the sour taste of losing friends and relatives, yet know they are in a better place. And miraculously, what seemed strange or silly when we were in our teens or young adult years becomes a gift, a treasured memory seen differently.

How about your memories in a box? Have you brought them out lately? Wonder what you would find looking through a new lens? Maybe it’s time to find out!

19 thoughts on “Seeing Memories Through a New Lense

  1. Congratulations on your essay publication, Sherrey! This is a great post. I can relate to searching for one specific photo and being pulled in many other directions while I’m searching. Life is filled with surprises! Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed this little journey through your memory box.

    1. Hi Kathy! Bet you’ve been a busy grandma the past few days with the arrival of the little grandgirl. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by to read this post and to leave words of encouragement (the essay) and sharing your own experiences in looking back at memories.

  2. Yes, there are boxes but it’s mostly my stuff. There are some old black and white photos of my parents and of my brothers and me as little kids, but that’s it. My parents didn’t like to share much history. I sure wish there was more!

    1. Joan, a lot of folks in our parents’ generation felt that way about sharing history. And too some things were lost in the Depression with moving and so much more. I take your words, “I sure wish there was more,” to heart. I remember complaining how much I had to go through when Mama died, and now I’m glad to have what I do. Thanks for stopping in today.

  3. Recently, looking through old photos, I had that same reaction, Sherrey. I’d lost memories or the memories had ceased to be important. On the other hand, a couple of photos actually gained importance, led me to restored memories. Congrats on your essay. Took a while, but it’s in.

    1. “Memories had ceased to be important.” That’s part of the reaction I felt. I couldn’t believe some of the memories I was uncovering could have ever been thought to be unimportant, and yet they had become so. So glad you are a part of the discussion here.

  4. Sherrey, Congrats on your essay making it into the anthology…quite an accomplishment…I’m reading now about how our memory changes over time and depending what mood we’re in when we review a memory….

  5. Congrats, Sherrey! You gave up attachment to a specific outcome, and you therefore can be surprised by joy and grace. Wonderful.
    I am swimming in memories and memorabilia. I discovered this week that the place we stored our Kodak Carousel slides is far too damp to keep them safe.
    So I have stacks of boxes on my kitchen counter, have discovered mold on many of the slides and have a HUGE task ahead trying to decide what to do with them and whether or not to try to salvage them. Ugh.
    The memories in other boxes have fared better. But the amount to go through everywhere is quite daunting.

    1. Shirley, thank you as always for your encouragement in all things. Sorry for the Kodak Carousel slides dilemma. When we first store things, we believe we have considered all risk to them. But we are not masters of that game, are we? Someone else holds control over what lasts and what doesn’t. I’m glad other boxes of memories are better off. Daunting fits the collections in this household to a “T.”

  6. How wonderful Sherrey, that your submission has found its way back to the top. You know what they say, if it’s meant to be . . . 🙂 I totally hear you about the pictures. As I am sitting with my cousin in mourning for my aunt’s recent passing, we have been looking at many photos. I saw my first photo of my own mother when she was a child; the only one I’ve ever seen. It really takes us back to a time when we didn’t even exist. 🙂

    1. So glad you have someone to sift through memories with right now, Debby. I know the feeling of seeing your first photo of a parent as a child. The same happened for me when I received childhood photos of my father when he was four years old. It was so odd to realize that no one had even given a thought to my coming into the world then! Continue to heal and share memories.

  7. Funny you should mention this. Just yesterday I was sorting through a notebook full of PowerPoint slides I made for use in workshops and presentations on improving meeting skills. That brought back memories of my first book and the doors of opportunity it opened and the combination of excitement and terror passing through them entailed. I looked at the slides and they are simply GORGEOUS. Quite different in style from what I do today. Hmmm. Do I want to toss them? Maybe not. Will I ever use them again? NO! But they are gorgeous. I may use them yet for further style inspiration. I’m addicted to PowerPoint.
    I turned to my computer in the hope they survived on my hard drive. Apparently not. I was using little floppies in those days and missed a few when I uploaded. I created them in WordPerfect’s version of PowerPoint and cannot find them. But I did find another document that blew me away. It’s a goal-setting, dream-building exercise I did in 1993. Would you believe, I’m a bit behind schedule, and geographically off, and no longer have need for a personal assistant, thanks to technology improvement. But basically I’m living that dream and moving toward its ultimate fulfillment. I described to a T the house we are looking for in Austin and hopefully will soon own. But best of all, I found the prophesy that my daughter (who had moved to Seattle shortly before I wrote this) would have the free-lance business she’s currently engaged in and two young daughters, and that we’d live near each other. That last part is about to happen — in Austin, not Seattle. I thought I wrote that by hand and have dug countless times through every journal-type notebook from that era. Woo hoo! I FOUND IT!
    Some of my memories are in boxes, some in notebooks, many on shelves and a growing percent on my hard drive, which I’m learning to keep backed up.

    1. Sharon, I too love PowerPoint. A handy platform for creating many things. Don’t throw away anything you see as gorgeous. Who knows what that “gorgeous” may repurpose into?
      Your 1993 exercise sounds intriguing. Behind schedule? Aren’t we all any more? I love that the house you dreamed of in Austin is the one you’re looking for today. Your new journey is unfolding bit by bit.
      And once you’ve made the big move, not only will it have provided new memories but you will continue making many, many more for those boxes, notebooks, shelves and hard drive.
      You made my day with your comments. 🙂

  8. Congratulations on the impending publication. Hopeful news for us writers.
    As you may suspect, I keep my memories in boxes, scrapbooks, photo albums, and most recently discovered some in Kodak Carousels. It’s hard to keep up with it all, but at least we have them to sift through. It doesn’t hurt to get waylaid by other items. Who knows what that will lead to? 😉

    1. Ah, Marian, every little tangent takes us somewhere unexpected. Like the photos and remembered items in the boxes, it doesn’t hurt to take some down time and remember, does it? So glad you came by. Keep writing!

Comments are closed.