The School Of Life - Writing As Therapy Journal - Memories
A linen-bound notebook designed to accommodate ideas, aspirations and worries in the therapeutic activity of your thoughts.
We have so many vague feelings of hurt, envy, anxiety, and regret, but for the most part we never stop to make sense of them. It’s too un-comfortable and especially difficult because we are so often busy and frazzled, hyper-connected yet a bit lonely. To really understand what we feel and think, we must turn away from distractions, common sense, and other people’s opinions. We need to develop intimacy with ourselves.
Our un-thought thoughts contain clues as to our needs and our longer-term direction. Writing them out is key. Through writing, we recognise patterns to observe and, perhaps, outgrow. We can strategise – a remarkably neglected task. We can ask ourselves why we make the choices we do. We can question faulty narratives and create new ones. We can consider ideas before we commit to them, and reinforce good ideas we already know.
Writing is ultimately the task of discovering and developing what we think. There could hardly be a more important personal goal.
We spend so much time on the future, but so little time on our memories. The idea of making a big deal of revisiting an experience in memory sounds a little strange – or simply sad. It shouldn’t.
We’re not assiduous or devoted cultivators of our past experiences. We shove the nice things that have happened to us to the back of the cupboard of our minds and don’t particularly expect to see them ever again.
They do sometimes come back to us unbidden. On a boring train ride, suddenly an image of a beach at dusk comes to life. Or, in the bath, we remember climbing a flower-covered mountain with a friend a decade before. But we pay little attention to such moments. We don’t engineer regular encounters with them, and may dismiss them as ‘daydreaming’.
But what if we were to alter the hierarchy of prestige a little and argue that regular immersion in our memories is a critical part of what can sustain and console us? And, not least, is perhaps the cheapest and most flexible form of entertainment?
We don’t need virtual reality machines or cameras: we already have the finest ones in our heads. We should learn regularly to travel around our minds and think it almost as prestigious to sit at home and reflect on a trip we once took to an island, as to trek to the island encased in our cumbersome bodies.
In our neglect of our memories, we are spoilt children, who squeeze only a portion of the pleasure from experiences and then toss them aside to seek new thrills. Part of why we feel the need for so many new experiences may simply be that we are so bad at absorbing the ones we have had.
Our experiences have not disappeared. We can remain in touch with so much of what made them pleasurable simply through the art of evocation.