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Myth of Memories: Taking off the Rose Colored Glasses 

by Tammi Leader
 ∙ Aug 5 ∙ 5 Min Read

Memory: “the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information.” For a science-based content area, I have to say: memory is a funny thing.

My family will tell you: pictures and home videos were my thing! I raised my kids in South Florida and all through Hurricane Season, I kept our most prized possessions packed & ready to bring with us in case of evacuation. Two thirds of those things were media that captured what was or would become the glorious yesteryears. I clung (and still cling, honestly) to those images, those stories we recorded. But the craziest thing is: the memories they inspire are already encoded and stored. We lived it all, then watched it back enough times that we don’t really even need it anymore. Those memories, no matter in what context they were originally captured, have been written (or re-written) as they’ve been consumed. 

From L to R: My oldest daughter Chelsea, my girls’ daddy/my ex-husband Johnny, me and my youngest daughter Courtney, probably 1995

But…let’s get real for a minute.

While pictures and videos vividly remind us of the happy times, they’re dually responsible for creating myths. Because we’re not exactly breaking out our cameras to capture the lousy stuff as it unfolds, or turning the lens to un-sexy parts. 

Memories of reality — a degree, or sometimes more, removed from reality itself — help us glorify what was and sometimes call into question what IS right now. When did things get this bad? We used to be so happy. (But, were we?!) When did life get complicated? It used to be so easy. (Was it though?) (Of course, this whole theory wraps into why social media can be toxic, too, but that’s another blog post for another day.)

Here’s the thing I’m coming to realize: we grow, we learn, we evolve. If we’re lucky and smart enough to find our people, we do all that together, but so much of YOU is so deeply ingrained in YOU already, that I’d be willing to bet those high highs had low lows that somehow evaporated from your memory, and that the low times had a few happy infusions you may have forgotten.

Life plays like that, which makes getting real — asking and answering tough questions — exceptionally important. If those pictures and videos were in “LIVE” mode on an iPhone, what might you hear in the background? What could you remember in more color? If you forgot to hit the stop button and the reality of those rose colored moments continued running on RECORD, what nuances would you remember about the events as they really truly went down? 

This is one memory we still go back to: my sisters and Chelsea, at a parade in New Hope Pennsylvania. Chels got called out for her nice ‘do, and they taught her how to say, “Oh, my!”

You see, I believe when we take off the “rose colored glasses” we often look through to view the archives, when looking around at the present moment, we give ourselves a huge gift: real life in vivid color. Good, bad, ugly…the delicious aroma of fresh bread alongside the staaank of NYC trash…the faint laughter of our children playing in the backyard that gave me some of my all time happiest memories, juxtaposed against the sleepless nights and all too many visits to the ER that came with raising great kids. 

This, my friends, is what my Crew and I call the myth of memories: the stories we (re)create in hindsight that move us to think we are doing something better or worse now than we did then, distracting us from doing the very best we can, every single day. 

My invitation to you this month: 

  • Dig in to the stories you tell yourself, your family and your closest friends — about a tradition, or a memorable moment you know you’ve told the same way a hundred times.
  • Think objectively about the details you know to definitely be true…

      • Things you could defend in court with integrity if you needed to!
      • The details you toss in now about the past because you’ve gotten used to including them in that way.
  • Think hard about what else you know that might give that memory more context, and paint more color around that story.
  • Then tell it again, updated with the facts you never really looked at before, as opposed to creating revisionist history.

At the end of this exercise, you should be tee’d up to develop a real story you’re proud to share with others about your life now. Tell it in truth, in whole truth (and nothing but!), and tell it to someone who means something to you. 

That’s how we’ll bust myths and make memories real-er, while weaving one another into a history we’re proud to maintain. 

And remind ourselves there really IS no time like right now. 

Tell us: What myths did you help perpetuate (or maybe get duped by!) that you’re going to rewrite this month? 

Join the conversation, here on Facebook!

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