I remember a piece of advice a friend gave me regarding getting over someone when I was studying abroad in South Africa. We were sitting in a restaurant over Valentine’s Day weekend. There was a group of us and our plan was to rant about exes over drinks. I must have kept going on about my ex because my friend told me to, “just stop talking about her.” And by stopping talking about her, I’d forget her and the problems that came with it.
I think about that idea a lot: forgetting someone. If we stop talking to someone, does that mean they automatically disappear from their life? I’ll admit that that course of action helped in this particular instance. There were some bumps after that year, but I’ve since moved on.
The world doesn’t always make it easy. I hate that Facebook feature, “On this day.” It doesn’t let the natural process of forgetting and resetting work itself out. I really don’t care what I wrote on someone’s wall eight years ago. If it meant a lot, I’d probably have a better remembrance of the thing.
I think there is a piece of each us that wants to be remembered by everyone we came into contact with. There’s a piece that hurts when someone can’t quite recall who you were.
I remember that I saw a kid I went to junior high with when I went to St John’s. We weren’t best friends, but we had a few classes together and played on the football team. Granted, I didn’t go to Forest Lake High School, but I thought he’d remember me. I went up to him and introduced myself. He didn’t recall who I was. it hurt. I thought I at least was a somewhat memorable character in junior high.
But I don’t blame him. I’m forgetting people that I went to elementary school, junior high, and high school with (and I assume it will only get worse as I get older). There is a part of me that regrets not being in close contact with my peers who knew me before I was 14. I was a pretty good kid back then, but it’s always better to have your memories validated by friends. But then again, If I met them today, I’m not sure what we would talk about. I think I’ve had a pretty different coming-of-age experience compared to the average person in my home town. And I also just feel like lots of things are different. (I suppose I’m not unique in that regard.)
Getting back to my original thought, why do we forget some people? Why do we remember others? There’s a few people I remember wistfully and wonder how they are now. But then I think that I probably wouldn’t connect with them very well anymore. There’s probably a reason we drifted apart and it’s not worthwhile to try and reconnect. (I think that’s different than meeting new people. I actually enjoy meeting new people.)
Maybe the way to keep remembering people is to keep those connections fresh. Keep making genuine efforts to make those relationships thrive. It does take two to keep a connection going, so I suppose it makes sense to dump something if one end isn’t working.
And then you think, “Will I be forgotten?” I mean, I probably will. But that piece of advice I read sometime ago, “People won’t remember what you did, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.” I’d like to think I’ve made people feel pretty good.
A song by the Traveling Wilburys just came up on my iTunes, “It’s Allright.” I love that song. It’s such a great refrain to sing to yourself. I think even if you’re forgotten, it’s all right. Make your mark. Go forward.