Anyone in therapy knows that remembering provokes change. It causes emotional upheaval and it provokes the necessity of some sort of decision.
Sometimes I ask my client friends, who remember few memories of childhood, to bring in pictures, report cards, childhood drawings, stuffed animals they have saved, anything left over and stored from their childhood. I ask them how they feel about these primitive objects knowing they open some primitive memories and feelings. And their remembering opens up long laid-aside emotions. Sometimes sadness, or joy, or grief, or resentment – emotions bubble up from the emotional underground.
I ask couples to bring in wedding pictures, books they treasured over the years, a favourite sweater from years past, and the action of this stirs up feelings and causes memories to revisit and, sometimes, rekindles embers of forgotten affection.
We store emotions and memories in recesses long forgotten. And it is these emotions and memories that cause us to change. We can’t control the long-layered emotions from our unconscious, but we can decide what we will do with them once we visit with them again.
This is one aspect of wisdom I think – to decide to do something good with painful memories. Perhaps a memory of failing in school or being scorned in athletics or feeling ashamed for simply being. It takes courage to live with hard memories. I admire people who make the decision to do well when they remember.
It seems to me that the “this” in “do this in remembrance” is to decide to do something worthwhile with memories.