I recently upgraded to a new computer, and in the process of doing so sorted through my mp3 library. It'd been quite some time since I'd listened to most of the common mp3s, since Youtube and other online sources sufficed just as well and were only a tab click away. So I'd actually forgotten quite a lot about the mp3s I'd had available - many, like the Clouds's '4 PM,' I only kept out of association with friends, because it felt disrespectful to delete something that someone I cared about identified with. Others, like my modest collection of Staind songs, reminded me of singular events in my life, times when I felt very strongly about something. Others still held connections to stories, cartoons, movies and soundtracks that I loved dearly. Yet I had forgotten so many of these things, or at least, placed them in a part of my mind where I was content to let them gather dust indefinitely. The simple act of organizing these mp3s reminded me about things... things that I didn't wish to be reminded of but probably should have been reminded of, horrible things that should be left to rot, precious things that really shouldn't have ever left my conscious thought process at all.
I realized that I had let those memories fade into the past because they had nothing to do with my present, and received a fresh reminder to never underestimate the adaptability of humanity. Human beings can adjust to almost anything, given time. It's a wonderful thing in that it allows us to survive in so many circumstances, but it can also be a terrible thing. Because in adapting to new circumstances, we leave behind bits and pieces of ourselves that no longer seem immediately applicable or relevant.
Since then, I've been filled with a desperate need to DO things. To grab the past and yank it into the present, if only in small ways that others likely would never notice. I want to remember these things. I want them held before me as shining stars that help me navigate my way through life. They're part of who I AM, you see.
I themed a Ben 10 fanfic in part around this a while back, and ended it with a quote from Aristotle: 'We are what we repeatedly do.' I have a friend who extends that so far as to her very conceptualized identity, her internal image of who she is - if she's doing something, she is that, for the duration of the task, and afterwards is that thing no longer. She is an artist while she draws and stops being one when she stops drawing.
This stands greatly in contrast to my own thought processes, where I have always defined myself internally as something regardless of whether I'm doing that thing or not, and that doesn't change even if I'm doing something completely different, which I implicitly recognize as being Not Me, Just Something I'm Doing Right Now. And yet, it DOES help to have reminders, and it does help to keep your outer self in touch with your inner self on a daily basis. Even small changes to your schedule can have a vast impact on your overall emotional landscape and outlook on life. Suddenly I feel like I 'get' why people have photographs and small mementos that I would usually disparage as pointless clutter: to keep us in touch with ourselves, to reinforce what we hold valuable against the daily humdrum of just making it from one day to the next.
I come out of this thinking that everyone really should take more pictures. And being glad that, in this modern era, we have so many different ways to preserve our memories!