Memories are fickle, sometimes cruel, and often confusing. Even the lovely ones can bite. Sometimes, it can feel like there's a mad projectionist flashing random scenes of humiliation from the past at your startled subconscious when all you're doing is trying to walk down a street in the rain or bite an apple or feed the dog.
That's why it's nice to give the projectionist some time off every now and then. Sit down in the dark. Pause and reflect. Do a bit of deliberate, conscious remembering.
Remember the good stuff. This is a Public Service Announcement.
Remember the hush of standing amongst pine trees.
Remember the best person in your life at folding things.
Remember the kind of tired you get when you're sitting by an open fire.
Remember the physical expressions of joy that tend to characterise childhood - the feeling of riding a bike down a hill, for instance, or doing a cartwheel, or jumping from a tree or balancing along something you know you shouldn't be balancing along, or listening to your whistle echo in a hallway.
Remember the sound of a bell bird.
Remember that thing where you stay somewhere different for the night and it's super dark and super quiet and the Milky Way looks like someone spilled a bunch of glitter onto a rug made of midnight and all you can hear is the noise of the sea, which sounds like a roar and also like silence.
Remember how eating an apple while considering something very seriously can kind of make you feel a bit cool.
Remember the last time you got the giggles.
Remember your first crush.
Remember the smell of a sprinkler on a hot day.
Remember chess and your favourite book and the Great Wall of China and space travel and antibiotics and ice cream.
Remember the smell of geraniums. And the word geraniums.
Remember your favourite childhood dessert.
Remember that until recently there was a woman nobody knew about who was undergoing experimental cancer treatment. Nobody knew of her, that is, until the period of two years elapsed since her treatment and it was announced to the world that the experimental treatment had worked and that her advanced cancer had been completely eradicated. Remember that, before that two year period elapsed, nobody knew this was happening except the people involved. Nice to be reminded that, right now, there are smart people working very hard on secret projects that will change the world. Go, you good people! Go hard!
Remember your favourite storyteller. Remember the feeling of listening to a great story. As a kid, at a party, in an audience, watching a TED Talk, whatever. Remember what they did with their hands and what they did with their eyebrows and when you felt most surprised.
Remember the feeling of having a really good conversation completely in the dark.
Remember distant thunder as lightening cuts across the sky.
Remember how lovely candles look all lined up in a row. Next time you're sick of somewhere, line up a row of tea candles and turn out the lights. Provided the house doesn't burn down, it will really refresh the aesthetics.
Remember rock pools.
Remember the feeling of someone about to arrive.
Remember that thing where you go somewhere in nature and you discover a gentle piece of evidence that humans have been there, and you smile to yourself, and you will never meet them, and they will never know. A spiral of gumnuts arranged on a tree stump. A row of shells, descending in height order. A portrait drawn in the sand with a stick.
Remember the good things. Notice them as they pass you by. Sure, they might be little, but they're part of who you are, and they're lovely, and you can conjure them any time you like. Take with you rock pools and the summer sprinkler the sound of your whistle in the hallway. Savour the mystery gum nut spirals and the bell birds and the Milky Way. Remember the good stuff. You deserve it. This has been a Public Service Announcement.
This is an edited version of a column that appeared in The Big Issue. Buy the magazine from the vendors when you see them if you can.