We all hold private memories… secret tears or secret joys held captive in the secret places of our minds… Sometimes these private memories are treasured precisely because they are ours, and ours alone… and we would desire that they remain so. At other times, these memories are rendered private, because shared histories and experiences are not part of our immediate social world.
When I went to university, I realised that while all my peers would lack a shared history in its particulars, most of them would share some cultural commonalities. I would not share in these due to my Third Culture experiences. I wanted to find a way of sharing my history with them in a way that would bridge potential relational gulfs, those moments when peers realise you are not who they thought you were… So I papered my walls with photos of my childhood in Africa. These memories were not secret, but they had been rendered private through lack of shared experience, and conscious sharing was the only way to counter the loneliness of perpetual cultural misunderstanding.
Where memories are not shared with the peers that surround us in our present lives, lack of shared history can act as a gulf between us. Are there ways we can consciously bring others into our memories? Can we tell our stories to those around us, drawing them into the ever-evolving fabric of our lived experiences? With every memory shared, another bridge may be built between a private past and an increasingly interconnected present. Our stories are our power, our gift, and a means of connecting with those around us.
Do you have lonely memories? Could you make space today to share one of them today? Perhaps you’ll have a chance this weekend to bring that memory into a shared space…