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Are Memories the Crux of Our Being?

Last updated on August 21, 2020

(Photo Credit: Jon Tyson)

Remember, let’s be polite; let’s be respectful; but most of all, let’s be outspoken.

Disclaimer: The following contains spoilers from The Office.

I just finished The Office. Yes, I know, the last episode debuted six years ago, so I am a bit late. However, I can say it is one of my favorite series. It is filled with humor and creative writing.

From an idiot riding a bicycle off a roof to that same idiot firing a shotgun in the open casket of his great aunt, it was a really enjoyable nine seasons. While it is famous for its memorable jokes and scenes, I think I loved the series because of the emotional ending.

Part of the journey is the end. Honestly, I have said and heard that statement so many times to the point where it becomes a cliche. However, it’s true. The final episodes of the last season made me feel incredibly emotional because the writers built up to that one specific moment.

In the end, a character named Andy sings a song called “I will remember you.” It’s filled with so much nostalgia and it got water all over my keyboard. Part of the song was “I will remember you, will you remember me? Don’t let your life pass you by. Weep not for the memories.” Listening to these lyrics made me contemplate the concept of memories.

There is this bible verse from proverbs 25:26 that says “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well, are the righteous who gave way to the wicked.” Which is a fancy way of saying that we all are morally guided by society, friends, and family, but once we commit that one immoral act such as murder, then our moral guidance becomes “polluted.”

The idea was once you are polluted, there was no way of actually reversing the pollution. So a murderer will always be a murderer, a robber will always be a robber, and so on and so forth. I grew fond of this quote until one day I presented it to my friend. And he simply replied by saying, “But what if you have dementia or Alzheimers?

Since you have no memory of the immoral act, can’t you say that the moral compass you had before you committed that hypothetical immoral act still will remain the same?” Now obviously, if a murderer forgets he is a murderer, he doesn’t disregard the fact he killed someone. But it got me thinking, is the whole fundamental infrastructure of our mind relied on memories?

The simple answer is yes. Every lawyer relies on their memories of countless nights studying the law, doctors rely on their studies of medicine, businessmen rely on their study of economics. But it’s not just jobs.

The reason why we love our mother is that we remember their tender touch when they tucked us into bed at the age of five or we love our father because we remember the time they protected us in times of fear. Memories are also the reason why we hold such strong grudges.

We feel intense hatred and contempt for someone because we remember what they did in the past. We have food cravings because we remember the taste. We start worrying about the next school year because we remember the stresses of the last school year.

We get excited when we hear our favorite singer start singing or speakers start speaking because we have memories. What we do, say, and think, are built on the meticulous fabric of memories.

Obviously, it’s common knowledge memories are what binds us together. Anyone that has lived can say the same things about their life. It’s really because there is a morbid truth behind memories. In Mexican culture, they celebrate the day of the dead in honor of their ancestors. The idea is as long as you remember them, they will still stay alive spiritually.

In the Disney movie, Coco, there is a song called “Remember Me.” The main character sings the song so that his ancestors will never leave the “land of the dead” which is a manifestation of life after death. The underlying theme of the movie is as long as you cherish the memories of your loved ones, then they will never “die.”

However, I disagree with this. Memories fade, and with that, legacies disappear. With the coming of the study of the memory, came the idea of humanity’s purpose. If everything we do will eventually be forgotten or disregarded in a few short centuries, then why do we struggle to complete near impossible tasks? If death is around the corner then why do we burden ourselves with responsibilities that clearly don’t satisfy our well-being or wants?

Are morality and justice subjective? What is the truth? But most importantly, what is our internal purpose in life? These are the questions that keep people up at night. These are the questions left unanswered by humanity for thousands of years.

When my parents die, I will cry and mourn like the rest of society do when loved ones die. However, as I will look upon the graves of my mother and father, I will have to accept the fact that they are gone. Whether I am feeling rage because they died unjustly or whether I am feeling grief because I miss them, it doesn’t matter.

The morbid reality of humanity is not the inevitable ending, but the feeling of vulnerability when loved ones die. That no matter what you do or how you do it, nothing will bring them back. That the only thing you can do is move on and find consolation.

I’m ending tenth grade now. Although it supposed to be another mere step towards college, it feels more like a splash of reality. It allows me to look back and contemplate the flaws and discrepancies of the past. It makes me smile to reminisce upon the joyful times and cringe at the drastically embarrassing ones.

Remember, let’s be polite; let’s be respectful; but most of all, let’s be outspoken.

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