What are we without our memories? What is our worth? How are we different than any other living organism? How important are the thoughts we have, and the memories we have, to the value we have?

I must admit that for me, memories are pretty valuable. They may be the most valuable things that I have. Memories of family, memories of experiences. Memories of moments. Even memories that are painful to recall, somehow since they are past, I treasure them. Most of my memories, I’d relive again. Some not. 

It seems that the people I spend time with, help me create memories. And the more positive memories we share, the more valuable those people are to me. These are my friends and my family. The memories that are not positive, usually happen when I am not with friends. When I am with friends, I acrue positive memories. When I am with family, it seems that I acrue even more.

I’m on an airplane right now, returning from a trip that was all about memories. Not super big memories, but incredibly valuable ones. I just dropped everything to jump on a flight to see my son. And we went to a baseball game together.

Context: It’s important to know that I am not a sports guy. That is a very big understatement. I could care less. I barely knew that it was post season. It’s not my thing. It’s not important to me. Regardless, I dropped everything to go to a game hundreds of miles away. Not convenient at all, and I could have used lots of excuses not to go. But, I didn’t have to build the airplane either. So there is that.

Last Sunday afteroon my wife was talking to my son on the phone, (he lives in Texas right now) about the Mariniers playing the Houston Astros. He wanted to drive to Houston, about two hours from where he is living, to go to the game. He was trying to get his friend to go, and that wasn’t working out. So he didn’t have anyone to go with. I said on a whim, “I’ll go with you”.  So I did. 

I used my airline miles for part of the trip, and I had to buy my return ticket. I had to reschedule some of my commitments. I may have inconvenienced some students, and some fellow musicians. There is some money I will be missing out on. I spent some money I don’t have. I bought overpriced food, and put up with another horrible red-eye flight that I said I’d never do again. Yeah, this one was pretty bad. It was an 1145 pm flight with a screaming toddler behind me, and a dog that wouldn’t stop barking, what seemed like the whole flight. I didn’t get any sleep. Also, my ears hurt really bad when I fly. I’ve tried everything, including buying those “ear planes” things you shove in your ear. And you guessed it, mine got stuck in my ear on this trip. All attempts to pull it out seemed to just jam it in further. When I got off the plane, I went to a shop in the airport looking for tweezers to try to pull the thing out, but they had none. I finally settled on a travel sewing kit that had a safety pin hoping that it could help me pry out the painful ear device. Which, it did.  Next up was trying to get sleep after getting off the flight. The airport in Houston was insanely busy. My son was driving out to pick me up, and would be a couple of hours. Thankfully I had a chance to try to find a quiet corner and get some rest. About 45 minutes worth. Ugh.

The best part of those experiences is that I can share those memories with my friends, and we can laugh at them now that they are over. It was pretty bad though at the time. My son thought it was funny when I shared it with him. There may have been a little sympathy in his laughter too.

Let me count the memories added so far:

  • Horrible red-eye, 
  • Screaming toddler, 
  • Barking dog,
  • Busy terminal, no comfy place to rest?
  • Super long lines to get coffee.
  • Finally resting in an airline terminal chair
  • And…

Now that is all behind me, I have only the memories of those things. And I get to add them to the positive memories I created. 

I saw my son.

Just seeing my son brings me joy. Nothing needs to be said, no words at all. It was the best feeling. Even now, on my way back home, thinking of that moment of seeing my son again, getting out of his car, when picking me up… pure joy. 

We went to a baseball game together. Wandered around an unfamiliar town, purchased overpriced snacks and drinks. We sat in the 400 level with a bunch of fans that we rooted against. And had a great time, even though our team lost. “They always lose”.  But it’s not about that. It’s about memories. I got new ones that we created.  And that’s cool. That’s the best.

As the game went on, and we kept having hope our team would someone pull out a win. I found myself thinking that if they lost, my trip would some how have not been “worth it.”  Sidebar time: I am not an optimist. I am an idiot more than I care to admit. For some stupid reason, I pride myself on the ability to see the negative in everything, and I struggle a lot with negative self talk, especially in times like this. So I have to smack myself around  a bit, “what?. Don’t be an idiot. This is an amazing experience, just being here and hanging out with my son. Who cares if our team wins or loses?”

Yeah. It’s not about the game.

Memories.

Can I inventory the positive ones? I am not sure I can. I start thinking of one, and then I get distracted by another one. Let me try a bit and see how far I can go.

  • Seeing my son.
  • Hugging my son and telling him that I love him.
  • Driving in the car with him through Houston.
  • Walking through the streets of Houston on our way to the ball park.
  • Talking as we walk.
  • Running into other Mariners fans.
  • Finding a bar to get some food at before the game.
  • Seeing more Mariners fans there.
  • Fries and watching my son order a beer, get carded, etc. (Yeah, it’s fun to see my son get carded, and yes I am that old.)
  • Walking into a new stadium.
  • Figuring out the layout of the place.
  • Wandering down to the Mariners dugout and watching them sign autographs for kids of all ages.
  • Taking pictures.
  • Watching the pregame warmups.
  • Wandering around some more.
  • Trying to rest in my nosebleed seat before the game starts.
  • People watching (who doesn’t enjoy that?)
  • Having 2 more Mariners fans sit next to us.
  • Chanting opposite cheers the entire game
  • Seeing an Ichiro jersey about 8 rows in front of us.
  • Finding BBQ food I can eat.
  • Chatting with nice vendors, happy we were there even though we were rooting for the visiting team.
  • Lots of laughs and smiles.
  • Our team got some hits and some good plays.
  • They lost anyway. 
  • Complaining that they always lose when I go to a game. (I guess it’s my fault… )
  • Walking back to the hotel.
  • Complaining about being tired.
  • Complaining about my trip down.
  • My legs really did hurt.
  • Getting upgraded at the hotel.. super nice room at no extra cost. Wow.
  • Actually a super awesome friend gifted us the room, wow… that was amazing.
  • Finding a place to eat, that wasn’t too expensive.
  • Walking around Houston at night and it was nice… a lot nicer than I thought it would be for a big city.
  • Talking with my son, and his friend who ended up going after all…
  • Hanging out in the hotel room after the game, watching college football. (Our team lost that game too. Maybe because I was watching?)
  • Giving my son a good-bye hug, and talking about the next time we are going to see each other.
  • 5 am Uber ride to the airport
  • Answering the Uber drivers question, “What do you do for a living?” and hearing their amazed response when I say, “I am a musician.”
  • Encouraging that driver to keep doing music… “It’s worth it”
  • Traveling super light. I enjoy that. Almost no bags at all for this quick trip.
  • Writing this and reminiscing about these memories.

I could keep going. 

Memories.

There are a lot of things that make “us” different, but I would have to say that the priority we place on creating memories is definitely one of any individuals biggest differentiators. 

I really enjoy sitting with family and friends and reminiscing about the memories we have, sharing stories. When they are shared stories, we reminisce together. When they are their stories alone, I enjoy hearing them tell me their stories. I love hearing friends tell stories, even if I am not in them.

As for this memory, I’d do that all over again.

Without memories, what are we afterall? We are just these weird organisms of living tissue wandering around inside a bigger world of organisms, interacting with other werid organisms.  Sure we have other thoughts than memories. We can make plans, and we can create expectations. We can create and build things. But when they are over, we inventory them as memories. We write a book, we read someone else’s book. They become memories. We write songs. We listen to them, they become memories. This is true of pretty much everything. They all become memories.

Without our thoughts, without our memories, what are we? What do we have left? Without our ability to think and reflect, are we any different than a plant? A tree? An insect? Do they have memories? Do they have a soul? Do they crave creating memories? Spending time with family?

Something interesting to pontificate on, another time.

Meanwhile, I hope that you are investing in your memories. I hope at the end of each day you look back and say to yoyurself, “I would do that all over again.”  Maybe you can’t feel that way every day, or maybe you can?

Hmm. That’s an interesting question. 

As for me, I am thankful today for the memories we created together. And I look forward to the next set of memories I get to experience, then store them away and treasure each and every one.

Memories.

One thought on “Memories

  1. Some of my fondest memories are of working with you to keep the original Boxley’s restaurant afloat, helping with jazz and blues walks and, of course, the opportunity to play jazz with you. Love you, Danny. You’re always in my heart.

    Like

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