“A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered. You are speaking… as if the pleasure were one thing and the memory another. It is all one thing.”
- C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
Nostalgia runs wild.
I can’t remember a time where I’ve undergone this much change in such a short time- really, it’s been pretty much overnight. One morning I woke up. By ten, I was officially finished with college. By twelve, I turned in the key to the house I shared with seven of my best friends. By one, I was moving into my new place. It’s tough keeping track of who’s still in town, and who left and everything going on. And life used to be crazy busy. It’s a Tuesday. Right about now, I’m supposed to be rushing over to the other side of the freeway to spend time with a couple autistic kids.
Suddenly, all that has come to a stand still. Summer’s here, and I have the time that’s eluded me for over a year. I keep my fingers crossed regarding internships as I wait to hear back. I wait for my approaching trip to Chicago, and it’s far from a passive wait. Until the time comes, I’ll be taking mini-trips to Solvang, Thousand Oaks, and Pomona.
While all this happens, it sinks in just how crazily things are changing. Many huge details about my life have completely shifted between this time last month and today. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had an ordinary day. I’m fairly accustomed to change. I moved a few times growing up, and recently I’ve dealt with change a lot after living abroad for extended amounts of time. But I don’t think I’ve ever come across it striking this intensely.
It’s not even bad change. I’ve been looking forward to graduation for a while. I enjoyed school, but it got laborious after doing it non-stop for four years. I’m especially excited to finally have the freedom to pursue some internships I’ve had my eyes on for years. It feels like I can finally go do something about the issues I’ve spent so long studying.
But this change does mean I’ll have to leave a few things behind. Living at the Love Dungeon was a big one. It’s also been tough saying goodbye so much this week. Although I know my goodbyes are only temporary, they still suck. Having to drop off my Norwegian friend at the bus stop yesterday was tough, we’ve had such a good time doing wacky adventures. Not only are my international friends heading back home, many of my other friends are making new homes for themselves. Homes much further away.
Change isn’t easy, but they’re the main route growth uses to get to our lives. And if it ever feels difficult to leave something behind, there’s some good in that. It means what you’re leaving behind was really, really good. You are hopefully leaving it behind for better things, but that doesn’t negate its goodness.
That’s why I love the quote from Out of a Silent Planet that marries the notions of pleasure and memory. Another quote I like, by Soren Kierkergaard explains that “life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
Working with autistic kids was tough. I’d worked with a few for close to a year and it would still feel like they had so much more progress to make towards their goals. Then I would think back to our earlier sessions and I’d realize that they’d made progress alright. An incredible amount.
Looking back allows us to realize how far we’ve come, how close we’ve grown, and how many incredible experiences we’ve had along the way.
Maybe that’s why I’m a little camera happy. Memories, times I spent with people, investing in lives are what I consider my true riches. Relationships give me more joy than any job or source of income ever could.
In the scene of the C.S. Lewis novel where I took the quote from, one character explains the act of remembering as similar to the last part of a poem- it’s the last part of the pleasure and it elevates the events of what happened from a recollection into an art. As he explains, “when you and I met, the meeting was over very shortly, it was nothing. Now it is growing something as we remember it. But still we know very little about it. What it will be when I remember it as I lie down to die, what it makes in me all my days till then- that is the real meeting. The other is only the beginning of it.”
Actual events fleet like crazy if we confine them to their actual concrete unfolding at a point in time. However, if we allow ourselves to remember fully, they live on, always providing for us a certain sort of joy. My time at the Love Dungeon lives on in every close relationship I make that forces me to work through minor conflicts while growing closer to the people around me. My hot tub sessions with Matt will continue as I try to apply the things we discussed in jacuzzis to the real world- whether in relationships or on human rights boards. Wandering around New England will always stick around in the spirit of adventure and bonding opportunities. And although I might not have Bridges core meetings on my weekly schedule, it still continues on my mission to make a friend from every single country in the world.
Change can be rough, but it’s also super important. Memory works that same way too. Nostalgia does have an element of sadness, but don’t neglect it’s element of joy. It’s like the aftertaste of a good beer. It’s a part of the experience. Life’s kind of sad if you find you can’t remember all that much of it. Live it up, and realize the memories you take with you are going to be something too good to ignore.