I wonder why it was when something started ending, the way we looked at it changed all of a sudden.
Everything appeared to move in slow motion the minute you realised a relationship was ending, a friend was moving away, a loved one was sick, you were switching cities; as soon as we realised change was afoot, we saw things differently.
Somehow the every day cup of coffee became beautiful, and the songbirds became your best friends, and the laughter that was jarring once became the sweetest song you heard, and the aggravating arguments became things you just smile blankly at, and all the anger turned to mush, and your dying dog’s fur became the softest thing you’ll ever touch, and that last smile in a café became your favourite one for all of eternity.
As if we were programmed to save the most important memories—without knowing which ones are important—as images imprinted in our conscience, forever. As if there’s a switch in our heads that flips and an alert pops up, saying,
Look carefully, and make sure you register that smile, that sunset, that apartment, that sound, just all of it; it’s the last time you’re looking at it and experiencing it for the rest of your life, and even if it feels like the worst thing in the world right now, you’ll miss it when it’s gone.
And we did. We missed it all, once it was all over. The worst parts too. Especially the worst parts—sometimes, overlapped with the thousand good ones, images painted over images, like something out of a Dali painting which shouldn’t make much sense but makes sense nonetheless.
And a collection of “”firsts””, neatly filed into folders, geotagged and timestamped, arranged in the drawers of our personal archives, ready to be opened and make us smile, whenever life seems a bit difficult. It works too. It always works, and it comes on its own.
It’s as if we’re programmed to take the best out of everything, to be optimists. Perhaps, that’s the secret. We are inherently an optimistic species—the reminders to stay so etched in the workings of how we store memories.
Perhaps, that’s why we’ve survived for so long.