A reminder to keep sailing

Before anyone begins reading, these are reminders made by myself for myself. Seek help from friends and loved ones if you don’t find solace here.


This week I received news, from both far and near, of both distant and close, that so-and-so was no longer with us. Five separate incidences from five very different corners of this growing aquarium I view the world in. I let my work sweep me away, I decided to move on, move on, move on… but this wasn’t going to just move on.

Here’s a gentle reminder that moving on isn’t a thought but a process.

We forget, naturally.

Today, I got on a SF Muni bus for the first time in a year. As I sat, staring in agreement at the “May need to make sudden stops” sign, I saw from the corner of my eye a child, sitting on her mother’s lap, eating a cookie.

I became aware of her youth. Will she remember this day five years from now? Will she remember where she was going, what cookie she was eating, or the old man in front of her mumbling Shakespeare quotes and garbled Cantonese?

No, probably not.

Today, I got on a SF Muni bus for the first time in a year. That’s sort of a lie. I don’t remember the exact day I was on a Muni. I don’t remember what I was doing, where I was coming from, or who I was with. I just know it happened at some point, and it was around a year ago.

This is most days in our life. When I learned about photographic memory, I thought that was the best thing ever (The number of history exams I could have aced in high school!). It was much later when I actually met someone with photographic memory that it was more pain than bliss.

She remembered the weather of every single day of her life. Every road she’s ever taken, every meal she’s ever eaten, every word she’s ever heard. She remembered her very first experience with grief with the same amount of detail as her latest one.

I realized then, I had been the lucky one. Programmers might call an average memory like mine a lossy compression. We only keep the juicy details, throw out the rest.

But these details are too hard to look at sometimes. I tried this week to stuff it away into a pocket, before its fat ass began seeping through the seems. The brain begins to slow down trying to do anything else, as it tries harder and harder to compress, compress, compress, boom. Where’s the clean up staff when I need one?

There is a drain for these things. We have the tendency to not use it. We also have the tendency to try to flush everything down at once and end up needing a plunger. I usually stare at a clogged toilet kind of hopelessly (especially when self-inflicted), in utter embarrassment and annoyance. But with time and some patient effort, it solves itself. Usually. Plumbers should really be paid more.

Insert cliché quote here: this, too, shall pass.

Remember love is constant, and reciprocative.

Every viral video I see on Facebook of rescued dogs acclimating into society after abuse and other horrors reminds me of me four years ago, and who knows, maybe n years later.

In her commencement speech today at MIT, Sheryl Sandberg reminded us a quote she was reminded of by the superintendent of the US Naval Academy: Smooth seas never made a skilled sailor.

Franklin D. Roosevelt sat firm in the midst of a war as he said this quote. Bearing on his shoulders was the fate of millions; with one word, hope could turn to misery. Vice versa.

The sea we’re on will never be always smooth, ever, to any sailor. The conditions of a storm can be constant, but so is the sun. The skilled sailor remembers that it is still shining behind the darkness, and that its warmth will be blissful and good, but also remembers that it doesn’t come easily, that they must work for it.

I forget that there are many suns in our lives. I forget to seek them out and relish in the rays, and to remember to let the storm pass. What words make me all warm and fuzzy inside? How often do I say these words to others? How often do I receive them in response?

When times are low, this is hard. It’s like I’m telling myself a lie — forcing myself to be happy, forcing myself to laugh. I’m not happy. But happy and sad aren’t black and white. Just as movies can make us cry one moment and laugh in another, I can do the same. Let myself be sad, but let myself remember to be happy.

to be happy = to spread happiness + to receive happiness

stay strong 💓 keep it beating

A reminder to keep sailing

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