The other day I was having a conversation with someone about childhood memories. Everybody's recollections are unique and interesting and - if I may be allowed a few lines of self-indulgence - mine are no exception. I can remember an air raid over Teheran during the Iran-Iraq War. I can remember my Polish grandmother suffering the effects of tear gas in Warsaw in the early 80s. And I can remember a certain super-wealthy, glitzy Middle Eastern shopping uber-magnet when it was still... well, when it was a place that hardly anybody had heard of. I carry these memories around with me all the time and, if I'm being honest with myself, I treasure them. It's a cliche, but I really do believe they form a key part of my identity.
Two wonderful films I watched recently put forward a very convincing case for dispensing with the past and living for the moment: Into Great Silence and A Prairie Home Companion. In terms of their style and plot, the two movies couldn't be more different from each other. But they both feature people who manage to put meaning into and take meaning out of whatever life happens to be offering them at any given split-second. It's a fiendishly difficult trick to pull off, but I wonder if within it lies the secret to achieving a deep-rooted, meaningful contentment. I'd love to be able to find out, but the problem is that I'm not quite ready to shed the protective cloak of all my memories.