The other day I found myself, as I do every now and then, going down the rabbit hole of old photos and videos on my phone. It’s like a Target run for me. I went back searching for a specific photo and ended up going through memories I hadn’t even thought of revisiting, lost in the past. I found myself smiling or crying as I reminisced.
It made me wonder: if I could, would I freeze a moment? A time in my life when people and things could continue to be as they were forever?
I stumbled upon a video of my grandfather kissing my grandmother at their 60th anniversary dinner a few years back and was instantly transferred to that occasion. That wonderful night when my grandfather was still alive. When his love for my grandmother was as plain as day and a fantastic, tangible example to the rest of the family watching as they blissfully shared a PG-13 kiss.
Really, thinking back to it, I’m almost certain one of the kids had a cold that dinner, and we had gone through a few rough nights of little sleep. It wasn’t all a carefree celebration, but I was only reminded of the happiness I felt looking through those videos.
My eyes watered and I felt the desire to go back in time to that event. To freeze it, to allow my grandfather to live longer. But then I realized that even though the moment has passed, his love continues to live through his family, including in his 15 great-grandchildren.
I am thankful for pictures and videos that remind me of all of those incredible fragments that have made up my life to this point—but if I’m being honest, even if I could I would not wish to live it over and over again. That’s not what it’s all about.
If we make the past our never-ending present, sure, we can recreate those moments that bring an inexplicable amount of joy, but we’ll fail to make new happy memories. I’ll miss watching life go on, seeing my kids grow up, or going through my own transformations. So, no thanks, Bill Murray, I’ll skip my groundhog day.
I know there will always be sad experiences, and at times life will seem tiring or arduous because that’s just the name of the game.
But to continue forward means capturing new memories.
New pictures and videos I can look back at later and find myself smiling without even realizing I am doing it. It means letting bits of my past emit a nostalgic wonderful feeling of joy I will forever treasure for as long as I live. Recalling that moment through my memories, but always remembering to come back to the present and live life as best as I can, honoring the memory of my loved ones who lived before me.
To quote the very wise Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”