Remember to remember

photo via The New York Times

photo via The New York Times

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I remember the names of everyone who came to my ninth birthday party. I can show you where I sat in all of my grade school classrooms. If my boss describes the appearance of a customer I served three hours before, I can tell her exactly what they ordered.


Still, for whatever reason, I can’t tell you my mom’s official job title, where I vacationed freshman year or even when I met my best friend. I guess it’s easy to forget something when you’re not actively trying to remember it.


The other day, Brian DeCenzo, managing director at Goldman Sachs and former editor-in-chief of The Visor, came to visit the newspaper staff. He talked to us about building a life after school and answered questions about lessons learned, college preparation and paper publicity. What struck me most, oddly enough, was how he answered when asked to describe his favorite Mum Day theme as a student.


He couldn’t remember the theme of a single Mum Day, couldn’t recall who won each or any year. Mum Day was a fond memory for him, yes, but a distant one at best.


With my senior Mum Day fast approaching, and my commitment to its excellence heightening day by day, I can’t imagine it as a forgettable experience. And yet, there was DeCenzo, an intelligent model alumnus with accomplishments beneath his belt of which I can only dream, telling me he’d replaced Mum Day memories with new ones and not even noticed.


Whether you believe memories decay over time or that they’re replaced to make way for new information, a simple fact stands true: we’re going to forget a lot in life. No memory is too insignificant to be remembered, and almost none too significant to be forgotten.


But …why do we forget?


Well, too often, we almost beg for time to pass us by. Disdain for schooling conditions us to count down the days until the weekend, the weeks until vacations and the months until summer. It’s admittedly hard to savor a moment when you’re quite honestly praying for it to end. 


Also, let’s face it: us high schoolers are wildly anxious. You’ve probably heard it said thousands of times that our average levels of stress and anxiety parallel those of 1950s psychiatric patients. Our minds are constantly racing with fears and worries, making it hard to internalize anything else.


I could go on and on about teenage stressors, but those aren’t truly what matters. We need to focus on the steps we’re taking to combat forgetfulness, despite the stress and anxiety working against us.


After all, I want to remember this upcoming Mum Day. I want to remember the sound of my grandma’s laugh, the words to my favorite songs, the books that make my cry and the way my best friend smiles. There will always be moments I’d rather forget, but I refuse to let my most precious memories fade from recognition without putting up a fight. 


So let’s fight. Let’s start journals. Let’s take more photos. Let’s meditate and pray more often. Most importantly, let’s realize the moment we’re in when we’re in it, and really soak it in. Life is truly too beautiful to be forgotten.