‘We can admit that memory resurrects the dead, but these remain within their world, not ours. The universe covers the whole, a warm blanket. But this memory is the glue that keeps the universe as one: although immaterial, it makes being possible, it is being. If an idea didn’t remember to think, it wouldn’t be. If a chair wasn’t there, it wouldn’t be tomorrow. If I didn’t remember that I am, I won’t be. We can also say that the universe is itself the glue that keeps it going, therefore it is memory in action and in essence, in becoming and in being. Because it remembers itself, it exists. Because it exists, it remembers.’
Etel Adnan wrote the above in Night — a composition illuminating how we stay immortal in this world, and another reminder of how connected we are as humans.
What would it mean to stretch this immortality into the reality of strangers while we’re still alive? What would it mean to look in time to find our memories scattered here and there, pick them up, and gather them on a ground that tells of our interconnectedness?
These are the questions I’ve asked myself (and refined) since starting the Memories project in 2022. Memories is an annual series that highlights our favorite memories of the year as individuals, the most moving pieces of art we engaged with, and our hope for the future.
It is a time capsule; a way of looking past and beyond the shoulder of time through reflection to share space with our experiences and find threads of truths that liven our empathy, offer us the most important messages for the future, and re-knot our connection with each other.
This year, Memories comes alive in a garden carpeted by some of the richest plants, each bearing its own message, making life in its own way. You’ll meet its cover, its entrance, lined by amaranth, an image of immortality reminding you that the garden you’re about to enter cannot be forgotten; almond blossom, a symbol of hope; poppy, a red whorl of consolation; reeds and their winds of music; and the periwinkles oozing the pleasures of memory.
Inside the garden are beds of eight flowers, each handpicked for their resonance with the human they carry. Chisa’s Daffodil is a bloom of self-love, a necessary ingredient in her hope for the future. Waris’s Sneezewort is a field of freedom, a dot into absolution. Gameli’s Campanula is a bell of gratitude, airing sounds of the coming life that is his.
The strands of Mo’s Red Clover are figures of calmness, of balance, of ease. Cynthia’s Olive is an illumination of Mary Oliver’s assertion that ‘you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.’ A call to peace. The shades of Ugbolochi’s Hepatica are the beauty of confidence, radiating around the desired (and already present) brightness of his future.
Temi’s Peony is a bloom of wealth, honor, and good health, a bed that bears her favorite memory, a prayer for the life to come. And the Lily of the Valley, the flower that’s offered me its home, stands as a return of happiness, a movement into ease, an everlasting hope that’s slowly becoming real.
Creating took me to places inside myself and outside the world I didn’t know were real, and I’m thankful to the other seven humans who entrusted me with their memories, buckets of joy, and hopes for this life we’re living. I take the trust placed on me, in all areas of my life, very seriously. And I hope (if you’re a contributor reading this) that you feel your trust held with tenderness and respect.
See Memories, 2022 if you missed it.
Sign up for Letters of Consolation if you’d like to be a part of future installations of Memories.
Memories is your reminder to go into the world, live, and make memories.
Thanks for reading. If Memories moves you, share it with a friend and say hello on Twitter. 🙂