Why Remember?

By Michael Armijo

I once read a story about a 9-year old boy named Travis, whose mother died at home one day. Without telling a soul, little Travis covered her body with a coat and he placed sheets of notebook paper over her face. He learned to fix his own meals – mostly frozen pizza, cereal, and soup – cut his own hair, and attended school without fail. He did this for over a month because he was afraid he’d be placed into foster care if anyone found out his mother passed away. The mother’s body was eventually discovered by family friends. Travis begged them not to call the police.

When I read this story I was moved to write about it from my perspective. A friend asked me why I sought out areas in life that are so traumatic, so emotional, and so powerful. He asked me why I seemed to focus on elements of life that are painful, emotional and disturbing. He asked me “why remember?”

It amazes me what life brings you. It’s like an old, enormous tree that sits in your neighborhood. One day it catches your eye and you tell yourself, “I’ve never noticed that huge obstacle in front of me before.”

Although that tree has been there and developed throughout your life, you never realized that you’ve had to go around it every day. You’re so busy trying to survive that the small detour has become a part of your daily routine.

I kind of feel that my emotions are like that tree. I’ve driven past them for so many years without really paying attention. I kept wondering why it took so long to get anywhere productive; why life was such a hassle for me. And then one day, for a reason only God may know, I noticed this tremendous obstruction in my life that I was going around and avoiding over and over again. I finally became fed up and decided I wasn’t going to go around it anymore – I was going to drive right through that humongous tree.

It was never my plan to have to go and examine the landscaping of my life. I thought I was supposed to follow the path that was laid out before me. But somewhere along the way, I developed a source of confidence that somehow convinced me that the path laid out before me was vulnerable to manipulation. I realized that I could change where I was going and how I was getting there.

I believe there are experiences in life that give you freedom and confidence, but sometimes you end up in a stagnant period where you have to take a moment to sit back and reflect. And during this reflection, you sometimes feel resentful of the circumstances that are before you. You realize that someone in your life planted seeds that grew into this enormous tree that distanced you from the success you feel you deserve. Somehow along the way, you’ve subconsciously watered those seeds and allowed them to grow into this enormous tree.

When you realize this, you get angry and resentful of your own carelessness and then you remember the selfish acts of irresponsible adults. You can’t change what has happened in your life, you can’t change these obstacles, those that have prevented you from going on with your life. It’s puzzling why we remember those horrid demons that have scarred our lives with darkness and pain. But, I have to ask myself: Why do I remember?

After asking myself that question I realized I had no answer. I then felt compelled to just let the darkness go and try to remember how great life really is. And although that huge and longstanding tree has strong roots that grow deep below the surface, the momentum I carry can uproot these life altering emotions and I can grow and love like many others.

And just like Travis, who used a few pieces of notebook paper to cover a painful sight, hoping that no one would discover it, we can ignore those chapters of our lives. This is why we must ask ourselves: “Why Remember?”