How much of us — our ipseity and essence as it were — is contained in our memories? If they were gone, who would we be? Would it be nice to be freed from the ropes of the past or terrifying in the tabula rasa of self at a more advanced age?
Memories seem to embody much of who we consider ourselves to be, holding our beginnings and the steps that led us to who we are now, just as a hiking trail weaving through the woods, and, just the same, would leave us lost if it disappeared behind us. We would find ourselves in the midst of strange surroundings, not knowing how we came to that place and moment.
That, I suppose, leads me to another question, which is how much of our self is tied to other people? Without them, how much of us is left? That depends upon how many others we have made memories with, and on the amount of made memories. There is also the question of quality. Insomuch as there are memories, the value of each varies. That isn’t to say that only the good ones are important or influential, for it is also the worst that are as well. Indeed, the bookends of memories are what we remember and shape us the most.
So much of who we are is determined by our staunchest allies and most nefarious foes. They help to represent our values, of what we stand for and what we stand against. So we tie our values to our memories and to the people we made them with, and they come to embody good and evil in our eyes.
Isn’t that why when a friend acts maliciously, unkindly, cruelly to us that we feel so betrayed? They are virtue itself for us, and virtue has cast us down. Just another illogical part of humanity.
Digressions aside, our memories serve somewhat like judicial precedents in that they make later decisions expedient. Someone gives us something? Good. Someone hits us? Bad. And the memories spark about in our mind during and after the event. Serve to bolster our iron morals. That is until… until a human trebuchet comes and punches a hole through every layer of our fortifications.
In any case, without memories, we are unanchored, adrift in the waves of life. That is not to say that there are not benefits to be had from such things. Only here is the freedom of distant shores and unexplored waters. And it is not only available to those who have no memories or have lost them, but also those who refuse to be chained by them to the ocean floor. Those who choose to make new memories unattached to an anchor, but instead use them as ballast to steady themselves, may find freedom to ride the currents or shun them for their own course.