What Do You Choose to Remember?

What Do You Choose to Remember?

Life is constantly giving us opportunities to make choices as to what we remember. Each day holds many different moments; some painful, joyful, confusing, happy, peaceful, angry and loving. It is up to us as to which ones we remember. Our memories can't hold all these moments, so the ones we choose to remember are important, for we will learn and grow from them. It is a little like selecting the best picture from a stack of proofs.

Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, we take our annual family photo. If we were to just take the picture with Barry and me and our three children, it probably would be easy. However, we have nine pets and we like to get as many of them in the photo as possible. After all, they are an important part of the family.

The first step in the picture taking is to choose matching color shirts to wear with our blue jeans. Looking at past photos, we have overdone the red shirt look. Choosing the color takes a lot of family cooperation. We all have different likes and dislikes and sometimes it requires a major compromise, like someone having to wear someone else’s shirt and then feeling ridiculous in it. This year was easy -- black.

The next phase in the family photo is bringing Rami’s horse, Magic, from his corral to the photo shoot. Then comes the arduous process of trying to situate the four dogs so that they are looking at the camera. Next, one of us runs to get the cats. The easiest is Milly, our seventeen year old senior feline. She could care less and is sort of like an old rag doll that just flops wherever she is placed. We decide her spot will be on the horse with Rami. Sam, Rose and Muffin are something else, and after a series of scratches and loud meows we give up on them for the fifth year in a row.

Finally our friend starts snapping pictures. Since we have a digital camera, we can see the results. The first series of shots is usually terrible. The animals are all looking at the camera but we are all so busy with the animals that none of us are looking at the camera. Our friend starts a second series of shots with the instruction to feel our love for one another. Out of the next twenty, there is one that is the charm. Perhaps not all of the animals and people are looking at the camera, but the love we have for one another is evident. We have our yearly photo. We will blow it up, send it out, save it for our next newsletter, and also place it on our wall.

Now, which is the photo we will remember as the true Vissell family photo? Will we remember the 49 pictures where one of us or the animals are distracted or will we remember the one that shows our love for one another? This is the way it is in life and relationships. There are beautiful heartfelt moments and moments when we are distracted from our hearts. Which do we choose to remember?

On Thanksgiving Day, Barry and I managed to take a lovely walk on the beach by ourselves. We hadn’t had much time alone the past week and so we enjoyed this rare opportunity. We talked about how grateful we are for one another and took time every so often to stop and have a leisurely kiss. We felt very romantic and close. Later that day we were back in the kitchen preparing our vegetarian meal for our family and friends. We were feeling tired and slightly irritable. Barry was sitting at the table chopping ingredients while I was cleaning up the kitchen. My eyes fell on a pot with burnt oatmeal caked on the bottom. Since he had burned the pot I insisted that he clean it himself. “I’ll give the pot a good soaking,”was his reply. Now three days into its soaking, I went over and started complaining about the pot. He glared back at me. It was a tense moment that evaporated about five minutes later. Now which moment shall I place in my memory bank for that Thanksgiving, the kisses and closeness on the beach or the burned oatmeal pot?

At the end of the second Harry Potter movie ( The Chamber of Secrets ), the great wizard Albus Dumbledore told Harry that life is not only about how much talent we have. It’s the choices we make that make the difference. For this past Thanksgiving I am going to choose the kisses and closeness rather than the burned oatmeal pot to enter into my permanent memory. By making this choice, my heart opens a bit more to what is real -- love. We invite you to likewise choose love.

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