Souvenirs and Calendars

Reminders of memories past, reminders of memories to be.

I have shelves of souvenirs above my desk in my study, next to my bed in my room and scattered in various locations all over my house. I pick up a teddy from Hawaii and I’m reminded of the boy I met during the summer of ’09 who I always wished I had gotten to kiss on the cheek, just because he seemed so sweet. There’s the incense from Hanoi still on the chest of drawers which smells like the store I bought it at, where there were filthy floors and spotless windows. Souvenirs mark where we have been, a trail of achievements and memories that are physicalized into tacky keychains and fridge magnets. They help us to remember the beautiful without being beautiful themselves.

Calendars are opportunities. Write in everything you want to do – write down a time, a place, the people. Stick to what you write, you’ll do so much. You have memories coming in packages; human packages, travel packages, food packages. Calendars help to ensure you can look back and cross out achievements in your life: went to the dentist on the twelfth, check! Hung out with my best friend, check! They’re more satisfying to look back on than to write on, but you can’t have one without the other.

But if calendars are of the future and souvenirs are of the past, what is of the now? Do we have a shelf in our mind where we start stacking our experience? Is it in a glass box in a pedestal perched in our brain? What if we haven’t planned for the now in our calendars? What if we forget to buy a souvenir to take home? So you have now and it’s glowing in your hand, but it’ll dim soon. You have an energy supply but only for a while. Write it down, take a photo or tell a friend. Keep the energy surging, but don’t blow a fuse – too much energy and the meaning is lost. 

You lose souvenirs, you neglect calendars and pretty soon now ceases to be “now”. Clear out your house, throw away the empty boxes. Uncluttered memories are memories that last. 

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