Blink and it is gone. The fleeting moment of 7 seconds ago is chased by the hurtling moment 7 seconds ahead. We hold ABCDEFG at once and then A is gone to the past and H is rolling forward. The pace of time ticks on and without holding onto the now and filing some rendition of it away, we find our minutes, hours, days and years spent without value or purpose. Memories are the economy of experience without which life has no currency.
Our memories can represent numerous meanings of the word currency.
According to Miriam Webster;
a : circulation as a medium of exchange
b : general use, acceptance, or prevalence <a story gaining currency>
c : the quality or state of being current : currentness <needed to check the accuracy and currency of the information>
d : something (as coins, treasury notes, and banknotes) that is in circulation as a medium of exchange
e : paper money in circulation
f : a common article for bartering <Furs were once used as currency.>
g : a medium of verbal or intellectual expression < … neither side possessed any currency but clichés … — Jan Struther>
My memories act as a repository and a filter for the life I have led and a shimmering lens to the highest and best tomorrow. They contain and create truth, marketing both to my ego and anyone else who will listen. They become the chapters and volumes of the Book of Bob and in modern parlance ‘they fabricate my brand’.
As the story develops and is retold, by me and those who have heard them they begin to seem plausible and possible. When I remember a meeting with a colleague and relate the experience to them on the next encounter, it infiltrates their story just as their recounting finds room in mine. We both remodel and adapt and accept the altered version as today’s truth.
The moment I recognize as now slips past so quickly that I would miss it if I didn’t shape it as part of a bigger picture. William James gave currentness years of thought as he raced ahead of his world. His brother Henry once said, after his passing; ” William is always around the next corner.” He mused ” Time itself, comes in drops”. or in fuller exposition; “All our sensible experiences, as we get them immediately, do . . . change by discrete pulses of perception, each of which keeps us saying ‘more, more, more,’ or ‘less, less, less,’ as the definite increments or diminutions make themselves felt. . . . [All our sensible experiences] come to us in drops. Time itself comes in drops. (PU 104)” His thesis seems to suggest that only the current memory can quench the thirst for understanding, but only for a discreet pulse ( a drop).
‘I don’t know if this really happened but I know it is true’ a paraphrase from Marcus Borg’s post-modern apologetics suggests that memories (stories) can be profoundly true without being factually true. It is in that ether that we construct our reality – a recipe of factual, literal, and imagined to concoct save our sanity and a delicious cake that we can offer to those who are proximate and intimate.
What we use as a token of exchange, either memories or money are merely and intrinsically a social agreement. I accept your story and assimilate it into a trust matrix that I use to decide whether to share some of my life and time with you. Or, I receive your script or a digital version as remittance for goods or services and complete the transaction because we have agreed that the $, €, £, ៛, ₽, that we trade has some value that is factual, literal and concocted. In either case, if the agreement fails, the transaction ends without satisfaction.
Sitting around a campfire, standing at a water cooler, or in a pulpit, applying for a job, courting a lover is an exercise in bidding, accepting, and rejecting. We barter for relationship, status, position, power, and love with the memories we share and the clarity we imagine and bring to our storytelling. If my memory tales align with yours, we begin a dance. You offer a version of an event and I add or adapt to it and offer some of it back. When I say ” I love you” and hear ” I love you, too”, my understanding is framed by how I have experienced love in the past and how I desire to feel it in the future. Your words are interpreted through my arbitrary moment in time position that is informed by my recall, recognition and reflection and my unspoken desire to be loved.
Back and forth the stories go and for some, an agreeable, intimate, long-lasting relationship develops.
My ego and delusions of grandeur are both a great asset and a devastating liability. I assume my memories and their articulation exist to be a medium of verbal or intellectual expression, cherished by all who hear them. I realize that the 1000ish words of this post offer my intellectual expression, somewhat convoluted by the act of writing and the fact of reading and the faculty of recalling. My fallibility can seem either charming or troublesome because your memories, your ego, and your delusions play into the understanding; factual and interpretive, of the exchange. I trust and expect that some of this will resonate and some will provocate and I am okay with both. I would be distressed if it fell flat.
Make Today Memorable,