I wish I could say I remember how you smelled.
I wish I could say I buried my face into your sweater and whispered, “Stay,” just too quiet for you to hear.
I wish I could say I remember your laugh.
I wish I remembered better.
I wish you weren’t gone.
I wish that our time wasn’t so short.
I wish I had said something more than just wishing you well.
I wish I’d said, “I wish we’d meet again.”
I wish you’d never have to leave.
I wish I didn’t feel like this.
I wish I hadn’t been so nonchalant.
I wish I wasn’t scared to care.
I wish I didn’t care so much, and that I cared more.
I wish I knew if you did.
I wish I could hear your voice.
I wish I could ask you.
I wish you weren’t 2000 miles away.
I wish I knew how our story will go.
But that wouldn’t be an adventure would it?
And that’s the thing with us: we’re adventurers.
That makes us who we are.
And I wouldn’t ever wish that away.
I wish you’d read this.
And I’m scared that you will.
drive-in theatre adventure
an early morning in the city with a lovely soul
"We only have what we remember."
That’s a line by spoken word artist Listener and it was my Instagram bio for quite some time—perhaps 6 months, which is ages in internet time. I’ve read somewhere that if you want to see what someone is afraid of forgetting, look what they take photos of.
So I open my Instagram. Coffee. Books. Cities. Occasionally a person. Are those really the only things I’m afraid of losing? Mostly, however, I think I find it rather awkward to ask people to take their photo. Coffee never makes you feel awkward. Coffee doesn’t require bravery.
We document our lives, more than any other generation, at least publicly. Our journals are blogs, our photo albums are global, and we can send 140-character live streams of consciousness to the Internet at any moment. We won’t be forgotten. We will be remembered.
That’s all fame is: being remembered. Yes, it’s wealth and a different sort of freedom, but in the end you get a coffin, just like everyone else. Only more people remember. You might get a Wikipedia article about your life.
There’s another cultural shift, however, characterized by John Green’s The Fault in our Stars: that it doesn’t matter if you impact a lot of people, only that you impact a few deeply. He describes a love story that “like all real love stories—it will die with us, as it should.” The inevitability of being forgotten doesn’t matter: only the now.
But there’s an aspect of this that implies that life is only immediate: that death ends a story and eventually no one will remember and that’s okay. It’s okay not to be great.
Is it alright to be unremembered? Is it possible to be still important? Is it wrong to be forgotten? Perhaps importance isn’t always found in being remembered and places and people, though forgotten, still reek with the importance of their past.
Perhaps importance is defined not in the moment or in memory. Perhaps it’s not in the looking back in or in the present, but in the looking forward. How do you look forward? You get one shot, one chance to round the bases of life, but if you look back or down or up, you lose the importance of both the present moment, but also the future victory. If you look anywhere but through the camera, you lose the shot. The instant is gone. Distraction is rampant.
Perhaps we’ll be remembered. Perhaps we’ll be forgotten. Perhaps both. Perhaps that doesn’t matter. Perhaps we fear the wrong things. Perhaps we’ve forgotten the point of it all: daily faithfulness towards eternity. The result, in regards to memory, isn’t the point. The goal and the destination are the point. Our job is not to create a monument or a catchy phrase for our tombstone. Our task is faithfulness, whether or not that means being praised or forgotten.
Our importance is defined, not in our accolades or in our lack of them, but in our faithfulness. It’s the one thing that lasts, even if forgotten by those who remain. May our gravestones reek, not with accolades, but with faithfulness.
"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” [Philippians 3:13b-14].