Do you ever think back onto some of your most treasured memories of your life and suddenly that bitter-sweet feeling that nostalgia can be starts to become a bit more bitter than sweet?

Not because it was bad or anything, but because, well, you miss it.

You see the memory in your mind and you smile at the thought of it, but when it’s over there’s that little pit in your stomach. I hate that feeling. I don’t like to miss things.

I’m talking about the memories that were from another part or phase of your life. The ones that where magnificent, and perfectly imperfect, and life-changing in big and small ways, yet something else called to you and eventually you walked on from them.

MY MEMORIES: A PERSONAL STORY

To be honest with you, I’ve been struggling with this myself lately.

Every day I see things that remind me of the past year I spent in China…emails from friends still over there, pictures on my walls, the set of chopsticks on my dresser, the old metro card in my wallet, the grey sky outside today. (Okay, I miss most things, but I do not miss the never leaving grey sky that humbles you to adore white clouds! ;-))

And I’m not going to lie, it’s really hard for me sometimes.

By the time I had left China I built a life for myself. I had a group of hilarious and crazy friends, a job doing web design for a travel company, a luxury apartment that cost $400/month, a relationship that defied the odds, a restaurant downstairs that sold beers for thirty cents.

Looking back, life was pretty good then. Probably better than I gave it credit for at the time, but that’s how most things are in hindsight isn’t it?

And now pretty much all of that is gone. All that’s left are my memories, and as much as I get such joy from looking back on them, it hurts to do it as well.

THE PAIN VS. THE REWARD OF OUR MEMORIES

Whether you’re recalling memories from past travel adventures, ended relationships, times when the butteries were still there, old friends you’ve lost touch with, good times from the old days, childhood innocence and fun, or those random, spontaneous best days of your life, there’s always a mixed bag of emotions that come up.

And you start to think about how they’re merely memories.

You think, those times have come and gone. That’s just life, ya know? That’s just how it is. You move on, you grow up, things change, you change, people change.

You start to dwell on the fact that the only thing that stays the same in life is that nothing stays the same.

It doesn’t have to be like that though. That’s the bitter side of memories.

So I say to you as much as I am saying to myself right now, don’t let the bitter-sweetness of past memories be more bitter than sweet. It’s not worth it.

These memories were some of the happiest, most important instances of your life, and they’ve have helped you become who you are at your core today. These memories are the things you love, the things you are, and the things you never want to lose.

IT’S YOUR CHOICE HOW YOU’LL REMEMBER YOUR MEMORIES

I’ve been realizing it’s absolute blimey for me not to be celebrating these kinds of memories lately.

Sure, we wish we could go back to some of them and relive how we felt at those moments, but that’s not to say we won’t ever find them again in other forms.

If you long for those memories of adventure and exploration, why not smile at the face of them and let them inspire you to plan your next one. These were the times that opened your eyes to the world, and without them you wouldn’t be as passionately curious and adventurous as you are today.

Or if it’s a love or a friendship that you miss, be thankful for the time you shared together. And remember that certain people come in and out of our lives when they’re meant to, and they’ll come back in if they’re meant to as well.

Or maybe you’re like me and you miss the way things were. Remember that you can give and take from that past phase in your life, and with that you can build something even bigger and better that will bring you and is bringing you even more wonderful memories.

Memories are a fickle friend. We can choose to let them haunt us, or we can haunt them. Remember that those pieces of your life are  not the present, but merely memories for very good reason. Whatever led you walking by them, don’t forget that it was what you wanted and needed at the time. Everything happens for a reason. The coulda, shoulda, woulda mentality will take every bit of sweetness out of your most beloved memories and leave them only bitter.

There’s a big difference between letting go of, holding on to, and embracing your memories. As I said before these are the pieces of your lives that make you, YOU. Celebrate them. Enjoy them. Let them inspire you.

Spend a little time each day reminiscing. The bitter-sweetness is well worth it.  Never stop exploring, wondering, and reminiscing. The past and the future can work hand-in-hand if you let it.

What About Your Memories?
What have been some of your most treasured, yet bitter-sweet memories? What did you take away from them? Share your stories and insights in the comments! I reply to each comment with love and thought and nothing is cooler than the discussion that get’s going from you guys, so don’t forget to Subscribe to the Comments!

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About Lauren Rains

Hi my name is Lauren Rains. I write about the human experience. Through thick and thin, I’m dedicated to growth, adventure, integrity, and love. The Mad To Live is based on my pursuits, experiments, research, and lessons of challenge and triumph in all areas of life, including being entrepreneur, a writer, a philosopher, a traveler, a teacher, a student, a creative, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a significant other, a stranger and the list goes on. At the end of the day, I believe human beings are here for two reasons: 1.) to love one another with total acceptance, and 2.) to see what we’re made of as we create the possibilities for an abundant life for ourselves and for others. No more bullshit, let's just enjoy our lives.

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