Writer’s Block: Memory Lane

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

Time is a funny thing. It’s known as the fourth dimension. The first three length, width and height, can be mathematically represented by a three-dimensional graph with an X, Y and Z axis. We can move forward or backwards, side to side, or up and down each of the three axes.

Take a step forward and you’ve moved along the X axis. If you’ve heard a piece of good news and jumped up in celebration then you’ve just moved along the Z axis. Holding your partner close while you dance to that slow song? You’re moving along the Y axis. But time? Time, as they say, moves inexorably forward. It moves in a singular direction and we move along with it, like a fallen leaf being tugged seaward by the swift current of a river.

For better or for worse, we can’t physically go back to the way back when. Well, at least not yet. If science fiction ideas of time travel ever become as real as iPads, automatic doors and personal computers, then maybe someday we’ll be able to visit a “when” and not just a “where.” But until then we are limited to live in the present, plan for the future and reminisce about the past.

All of us are prone to get lost in a moment of reverie every now and then. It’s such a dominant trait in our species that we devote numerous resources to capturing moments of time in ways we can access later — from scrapbooks filled with photographs, to collections of videos eating up precious gigabytes on our smartphones. A lot of that stuff ends up on social media, like twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

And Facebook has definitely been one of the most proactive companies about capitalizing on the lure of nostalgia. How many of us haven’t scrolled through our Facebook feeds and seen a gentle prompt to “see your memories”? I know I’ve gotten into the habit of checking out that notification fairly regularly.

For me, it’s interesting to see the things that were occupying my thoughts a year ago, two years ago, even seven or eight years ago. Sometimes my old status updates are a mystery even to me. What was I talking about, for instance, when I wrote that I got to climb the rungs of a fire truck ladder while on assignment several years ago? I don’t remember that event at all.

Then there are the days when an event was noted by many people at once, and remembered fondly now that the day has arrived again several years later. Such was the case earlier this week when my brother, his wife and many members of my family all posted to Facebook in honor of my brother’s wedding anniversary.

That’s another nice thing about taking a stroll down memory lane aided by a digital reminder. We all took photos that day. We all giddily wrote status updates. Now, three years later, as Facebook has reminded us of the occasion, and though we’re anywhere from dozens to hundreds of miles apart, we all have the opportunity to again celebrate the happy occasion. Happy anniversary, bro!

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