Saturday, January 23, 2010


Why would a person want tokens from their past? Why would they keep things that upon holding them in their hand could make them sad? Evoke an array of feelings. Is it not better to erase things? To file them away in your brain as far away from your immediate memory as possible?

No. I have labeled, altered, hid, and run from memories. Surely I need to let go of some, physical and otherwise, but I like to keep pieces of people, and stories. I want to have tangible things that remind me of who I was, who I am, who I've loved. I can re-write how I see them, but I do not want to delete them.

In but 3 decades I have been so many people, yet wearing the same skin. How? How can it be? I have been beautiful, and ugly. Sweet, and cruel. I have loved, and I have hurt people, I have been careless with mine and others' hearts. And some of that I wish I could forget. I find it interesting, and impossible, that people claim that they do not have regrets, that they learn from their choices etc, and do not hold onto them. To me I think you can do both, because I have. I hold regrets, and I learn from them, or try to. That doesn't mean I should dwell on them, which I am wont to do on occasion. But it means I know them. Our actions are burned into us, imprinted on our souls, and in our thoughts and there patterns and development. I see them in me, the good and the bad. I see them in the creases around my eyes - the laugh lines, the aging, the marks. These are all parts of a complex life, a human existence.

Life is a series of choices. Some that, my God, I would do differently. I cannot pretend otherwise. It is always difficult to say that though. If I love the people in my current life, and I know it is the actions I have taken that led me to them, then how can I say I would do things differently? Because this string of reality, this person that I am, would not exist; so I would not know what I am losing. Just like I do not know what I would have gained had I not made certain decisions. The primary reason I would not do things again is not for my happiness being more or less than it is, but for a chance to not have hurt the people I love. That is what I would rather erase. Remove the stains from my actions in the way that they affected other people. Nothing is harder for me than knowing that I have hurt my family and friends.

Life is like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. I turned to page 32 instead of 67. I took one path, if I had taken another, which literally could have been one different turn of a page, then I would not be who I am. The lines on my face would be different. And other people's lives would be different.

That is one of the things that is so amazing about reality, if any of us had made one different decision, turned to page 59 instead of 91, not gone to a BBQ one night, or even returned a call, we would not be where we are. Some people would say that that is the marker, the sign or thing that tells us we are where we are meant to be. And perhaps they are correct. Because every cause has an effect, ever action a reaction, but that doesn't make all of our actions okay; and it doesn't mean that I should erase what happened before I turned those pages. Before I altered the course of mine and others' lives.

So my original question, why would a person want tokens from their past, really does tie into this. We have taken our paths, chosen our inadvertent adventures, but we are creating, and sadly forgetting, memories all along the way. For me in an effort to live with the bad, I have sometimes altered the good. To make me look or feel better for things I chose. Or I have forgotten the good, it has been overshadowed by the darker story lines; so the tangibles sometimes help refocus the intangible. They help ground some memories, remind me of love, of happiness in the same skin but as a different person.

In many ways people may never change, but in many, many others, everything else about them can be different. I have remained ever the same, yet I am a dramatically different person living a dramatically different life since I turned from page 31. It is a difficult dance between knowing, remember, forgiving, forgetting, wanting to keep, or hold onto pieces of the past - all of these components. But we are the sum of many parts, which means we carry those within us, and sometimes we should carry them outside too. On a shelf, or in a closet. Or in a box.

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About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, counselor and colleague. I am a work in progress. There may be some pieces out of place and things might be messy, but it's okay. I would rather accept that I am still unfinished than think that this is it. You can find my comments on faith and spirituality on my blog: And my comments and anecdotes on life at:

Books That Matter. Well, some of the many that matter.

  • Magical Shrinking: Stumbling Through Bipolar Disorder, Chris Wells
  • Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • An Abudance of Katherines, John Green
  • Dave Pelzer
  • Franny & Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
  • The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris
  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, Daniel J. Siegel