Memories of a strange moment

I have a memory of a school athletics day. I would have been about 16, in year 11, at the time. I was in a 400m race, and winning as we were coming into the home straight. Winning was not uncommon for me. I was a good runner, and had won many races in my life.

With about 50 metres to go I looked across and saw a friend of mine running second to me. He was about 10 metres behind me, and in the same house as I was.

For some reason I decided to let him win the race. The thoughts I remember going through my head were, "He hasn't won a race like this, and I have won plenty. I should let him win. It would be the nice thing to do".

So I did. I slowed down and encouraged him to run past me. He finished first, and I finished second.

This memory has stayed with me to this day, vividly. There was something significant about it that I can't quite put my finger on. Something that potentially shapes how I live to this day.

While it was probably a nice thing to let somebody else win, there was also something diminishing about it. I was intentionally making myself smaller. I was not pushing myself as hard as I could. I was not doing my best. It would have been a hollow victory for my friend.

Today I am going through a process of reflecting on the ways I hold myself back and keep myself smaller than I need be. As I do, this memory keeps coming back to me.

I am yet to full unpack its significance, but have a feeling it is hiding a treasure for me.

Stories we tell

How important is it to get to the truth? Is it even possible when thinking about memories and events that happened in the past? Do I need to ensure that people who I feel have wronged me accept my side of the story, my truth?

I see that this is mostly a useless exercise. We all believe what we want to believe. We all make what we will of our own memories. We all tell ourselves stories that we can live with. Most of the time this means not confronting the truth about ourselves, giving ourselves something palatable to digest.

While it pricks my sense of justice when I get a hint that I am being played out as a villain in a story I'm pretty sure I was the victim, it does not seem to do much good 'controlling the message' or making sure my point of view is heard.

For one thing, I am probably doing the same thing, or have done the same thing. For another, I think that consequences tend to take care of themselves. No need for me to enforce them for others.

Much better I spend that time thinking about the stories I am telling myself, both the usefulness and the honesty of them. I will speak up and tell my story. But I cannot control what other people do with it.

Creation of memories

Today I will be creating some significant memories for my sons. Of course every day I am creating memories for them, but today will probably stick in their minds during their life.

I thank my dad for reminding me of this. We haven't actually talked about some of the memories the he has left me with, mostly great, some challenging. But having dinner with him last night he reminded me about what I have the ability to leave my boys with at significant moments in their lives.

So as much as I would love a moment like this to be about me and letting them know how I feel, I put that aside and focus on them, and how they feel, and what legacy I am leaving within them.

Memories washed away

I open the dishwasher as the kids are eating breakfast. We had people over for dinner the night before, and it is filled with dishes that are now clean. I start to unpack, first the bowls, and then the plates.

I pick up one of the plates and notice that it is a different shape to the others. I look at it, and a moment of familiarity rushes back to me. I have pulled this plate out of the dishwasher before. I have had this feeling of confusion and dread before. This plate was not always blank.

My son had once drawn a picture on this plate. Twice now. And twice it has been efficiently washed off by the dishwasher. It was the plate he drew on as one of the last things he did at kindergarten. Both times he drew a picture of all four members of his family, who now live across two houses.

I am devastated. The first time it was me that put the plate in the dishwasher. The second it was a well-meaning guest who somehow used the plate and put it into the dishwasher without me being aware.

I am devastated because today is mother's day, and day of remembering the family. I am devastated because the plate represented a memory my son has of a family together, a picture he said he would like us to put on the wall when we are all living together again.

I shed some tears, and wonder whether to tell him about it. I decided that it is better that he knows. Even if he is deeply disappointed, it is a good thing for him to feel, and I can apologise for my carelessness. 

I tell him. He seems to only vaguely remember it, and to care that it is gone even less.

I wonder then about losing that picture, and why it affected my so much and him so little. Perhaps it is because he is able to feel what he feels in the moment, and then move on to deal with the next moment without nostalgia. I seem to be still processing my grief, and my son's picture a trigger for nostalgia and a reminder of what is lost.