Life on memory lane

I learned to walk on Broadwood Drive, posed for prom on Anderson Avenue. Decorated my first dorm on Fifth, and spent six life-changing months abroad on Newton Way. My fellow missionaries and I called ourselves the Peterdaughters on Peterson Street, and I fell in love with New York on Bleecker Street. I suffered a lonely but transformative year on Cricket Avenue, and now, I reside on Fairmount Avenue in my beloved home.

But you know my favorite street of all? The one that encompasses all these homes, wonderfully rich with meaning and substance and growth? Memory lane.

I’m a nostalgist, and a dreamer, and I happen to love the present with unparalleled intensity. If the latter two weren’t true, the former might give me pause. But because I like to look ahead with confident hopefulness, and because I have the habit of soaking up moments such as sitting around the dinner table with dear friends for hours and happily running my regular route along the river for the umpteenth time and sitting daily in a chapel with Jesus who exists so mysteriously outside of time, I feel perfectly justified in taking countless trips down memory lane.

But why? you may be asking. There’s no use living in the past. Forward, always forward! Well, I certainly don’t have the intention of living in the past. And it’s precisely because I like moving forward that I so enjoy looking back to what was. And there’s so much more. Allow me to explain.

Reminiscing is instructive.

I’m a big fan of self-knowledge, self-discovery, all that jazz. And it’s amazing how memories can help in that department. By recalling where I’ve been and what I’ve done, I can start to see patterns. I recently had a two hour-long interview with an expert from the Catherine of Siena Institute, who walked me through many moments throughout my childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood to help me recognize particular gifts that God has given me. We discussed the difference among natural talents, life skills, and charisms as I relayed to him memories from playing in my backyard sandbox as a little girl to winning the affection of my sixth grade teacher. Thanks to that trip down memory lane, I’m now zeroing in on the realms of encouragement, hospitality, and administration, seeking to understand how God would like me to use those gifts.

Reminiscing puts things in perspective.

I love the concept of seasons—seasons of life in general, seasons of spirituality, seasons of busyness or rest, wideness or hiddenness. Reminiscing has greatly helped me to recognize those seasons and to properly appreciate them. By looking back to my lively life in New York, I held onto hope that my lonely year in the suburbs was only temporary, only situational. I could reassure myself that I was perfectly capable of making friends, that I knew what it was like to truly revel in the place where I lived. And what’s more, I could remind myself again and again, in the midst of extended spiritual desolation, that God issued me an unmistakable call to be right where I was. And now, finding myself in a wonderfully joy-filled season of life, I have the sense to know that I am not immune to periods of loneliness, or restlessness, or doubt. So, I’m doing my best to soak up this season of life.

Reminiscing induces gratitude.

This may be my very favorite. Gosh. All it takes is a quick scroll through this very blog to be reminded, time and time again, of the myriad memories I’ve made, ones that can warm my heart and make me laugh and put me on the edge of bursting at the seams with thankfulness to God. Recently, it’s been my thoughts of World Youth Day that have induced this wondrous gratitude. Often I think back to my parents' home, taking mental trips there that give me a sense of comfort and belonging and childlikeness. I’ve been remembering happy travels and international friendships and high points throughout my two and a half decades of life. It’s an exercise in studying my own history, in amassing reasons upon reasons to thank my loving God who has lavished countless gifts upon me. Sure, it may help that I’m an optimist. I tend to have rose-colored glasses lodged firmly on my nose, especially as I reminisce. But no matter your disposition, I highly recommend you take a trip or two down memory lane. You never know what it’ll bring.


How about you? Are you a nostalgist like me? What are your favorite memories? And what have you learned about yourself by looking back?





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