So I took on this project a year ago today. My goal was to write about a memory each day that is triggered during the day through some association (sound, smell, visual image, quotes, touch, etc.), a sort of writing exercise based on Marcel Proust’s genius description of involuntary memory in Remembrance of Things Past (A la recherche du temps perdu). While some of my posts I’ve dug deep to find an associated memory with something from my day, there are other posts that are descriptions of involuntary memories that have erupted from the depths of my mind. Sometimes the trigger is unclear to my rationale but none the less it exists, even if unexplainable.
I can honestly say that this has been the best resolution I’ve made to myself. It’s made me practice the art of writing again with some successful nights in finding a voice and other nights of struggle. Some nights while writing I’ve sat here laughing to myself and other nights crying my eyes out. This project has encouraged me to pay attention to the pocket-size treasures of memories packed in sounds, smells and tastes we are often too much in a rush to recognize and enjoy. I’ve also come to realize that perhaps the daily rush in which we absorb ourselves is in part a protective mechanism, shielding us from painful and unresolved memories. Writing these posts has allowed me to connect with and often indirectly thank old friends by sending them the blog post in which I’ve written about them. It’s encouraged me to work through emotions tied to memories I’d bottled up and avoided. It has forced me to become more comfortable with putting my personal self “out there” despite parental reprimands (some of them deserving) for doing so. I now have almost 2 years of memories documented since it was an event each day (an often an “inbetween” moment) that triggered a memory. While my discipline waned on some days and I thus have some days to fill in based on notes scribbled on post-it notes and my calendar, I can say that I am proud of this accomplishment.
I went back to my Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces I used during my humanities class in Strasbourg with Dr. K. It was there in France during my sophomore study abroad that I read Proust for the first time. Here is a passage from Remembrance of Things Past (specifically Swan’s Way) I had underlined then that resonates with this project:
“But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”