Most of us quickly dilute or dispose of bad memories
One thing I know is true, the older I get the better I was. That’s because my memory, like most, is a liar.
Author and journalist Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said, “The heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good.”
That is true.
Most of us quickly dilute or dispose of bad memories and exaggerate small victories into sizeable conquests.
Unless you are Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner or Yugoslavian ski jumper Vinko Bogataj – the unfortunate soul who was featured as the “agony of defeat” guy for ABC’s Wide World of Sports – most of us don’t have a video reel constantly replaying our life’s worst moments.
When we sit on the deck enjoying a fire, Blake and Dawit love to hear stories about my life. Go carts in cow pastures, game-wining free throws, and multiple homerun games are all true and all make for wonderful tales.
But as my son contemplates whether he will even play baseball in the years to come, I am forced to envy his realism.
After all, I tell him all about the all-star game where I came to the plate with my team trailing 7-5 and hit a three-run homerun to give us a lead. Of course the story usually stops there because my idiot coach pulled our pitcher and the kid he put in gave up two quick runs so that my majestic blast over a double-high chain link fence in right field became a part of the story that didn’t affect the final outcome the game.
I never tell my boys that the same idiot coach hadn’t believed me when I rolled my ankle rounding first base in a practice and accused me in front of all of the kids on the team of faking an injury to get out of running because I was overweight.
That’s why when I rounded the bases a couple weeks later after hitting that homerun, I just stared at him and ran on by when he reached out his hand for a high-five.
I also never recall the story of me crying in the car as a 10-year old when a 12-year old on my team blamed me for our team losing the game he was pitching in because I made two bad plays at third base. I hit a homerun that night, but all he talked about was my bad defense and how it was because I was fat.
I still remember my mom getting in the car and asking why I was crying. She wondered why I cared what he thought and reassured me that my errors didn’t account for all of the other team’s runs or stop our team from scoring more.
Those events made me try harder and practice more. I never wanted to feel that way again. Fortunately, there were a couple more positive memories that came along after that bad night.
But thanks to these events and a few others, my baseball career ended prematurely.
I hope Blake remembers his big hits and not his strikeouts. I hope he keeps successes at the front of his mind and is able to repress those less shining moments so that he stays motivated to keep playing – not because I want him to but because he loves to play.
These little liars that live in our brains keep the positives in the headlines of life to keep us believing in ourselves and stepping back up to the plate as little league baseball players and adults who are rebuilding lives after major life changes.
Those positive memories are among the first we recall consciously. However, those negative memories live in deeper, darker places in our minds. They are miles from our mouths when stories are told but they are often seen in the shadows of our bad habits and less noble moments.
Even though bad times are less likely to appear in reminiscence, they probably have more influence over our daily lives than those we rattle on about.
Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org