~Anne LeClaire, Entering Normal (2001)
Isn't that a profound thought? We do cherish our memories but, at times, clinging onto them makes us stuck in neutral. Yet, this phenomenon in the polemics of our behaviour that occurs when we hang onto a certain memory is a testament to our want to be loved and needed. It is certainly the case for LeClaire's character of Rose Nelson in her book, Entering Normal.
As an exceedingly brief summary, Rose lost her son and fell into a state of depression but it changed when Opal Gates moved into the neighbourhood with her son Zack. Initially, she tries her best to keep a distance from Opal for Zack painfully reminds her of her son, Todd. But in a set of unexpected events, Rose does get involved in helping Opal settle down in this unfamiliar surroundings and even fight to retain custody of her child. Such events eventually led her to realise the moral in the above quote. This led her to come out of her depression and followed Opal back to her own hometown as a support in bringing up Zack for she realised that giving love and receiving it back is what keeps us alive and what keeps us from dying inside.
At a first glance, it seems that someone who would say that suffers from inferiority complex mixed with a touch of depression. But after further consideration, I realised how resonant that line is in our lives. Memories are a precious commodity of our existence - having a recollection of an experience, be it good or bad, makes us who we are and by extension, proves that we exist and matter in this world. While it is important to have a throve of experience, holding onto the past makes us forget the present and an obsessive reluctance to let go of it makes us go into a state of depression. The important question is, what do people often hold on to obsessively and what does this say of ourselves as humans?
We often cling onto memories that makes us feel wanted, loved and happy. How often do we find ourselves remembering a previous love affair, a relative who has passed on or good times we have with a particular friend who is not in contact with us? It is a testament to our inherent want to reach out and love someone as well as to be loved and cared for in return. This want thus 'keeps us from dying inside'. In other words, to be fully human, we seek and give love from and to others. This pure and great gift therefore keeps us going and gives meaning to our lives.
On a personal note, this quote cannot be further from the truth. It is also interesting to note how my longing is more pronounced as I grow older than when I am younger. It seemed as if the more I could rationalise and articulate the depths of my feelings, the stronger my desire to be love and needed is felt. As I think back upon the years that I have lived (it is surprisingly not many but it felt as if I have gone through a lot), I begin to cherish the many roles that people play in my life. How different my life would be without certain people and I begin to see more of their pleasant traits and overlook more of their shortcomings.
In appreciation of these people, I do feel a growing disappointment at myself as I regret not being more sociable and mix with them in my younger years. Perhaps that is why I seem to overcompensate and try my very best to keep abreast of what everyone is doing now. It is amazing how much power such a need has over one. The lonliness of not being able to reach out to others kills me a little and the daunting years of serving NS has made this activity a preoccupation as my friends slip off to university. I have sub-consciously put it as a priority in making my time out of camp as meaningful as possible. However, my attempts has been in vain as my friends are indeed busy and our schedules are incompatible with each other. As such, I do sometimes experience short bouts of mild depression as I feel myself rotting away and my existence is hollow without these friends. In this light, I am able to empathise with some celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Diana when they talk of lonliness and how it often eats them up inside...
If only everyone can soften their hearts and contemplate on the quote... and listen to themselves deep, deep inside themselves... it will be one step towards world peace...