God has made me a sensitive person. I am sensing and feeling all the time. Why? And despite such acute sensations and emotions, I seem to have a shortage of memory, a certain lack of sharpness. Precision, at least in the traditional sense, is not there.
I feel, not count. I keep a poor catalog of events. My memories seem instead a loose collection of impressions. Triggered not by mention of a date, or era, or event, but rather by an experience or a sensation. Something that runs parallel and recalls the memory of my past feeling. Recalling the experience of sensation or emotion rather than a story.
Sometimes it’s a smell or a taste, like the immediate recollection of being a little girl, in my childhood home. The sounds of the kitchen and glass jars as my mother’s strawberry jam cooked. I could feel the texture of the linoleum under my bare toes. This all triggered by the first taste of a spoonful of an organic strawberry jam I hadn’t tried before. It tasted exactly like the homemade jam my mom used to make. I was powerless to resist savoring another big spoonful. It was almost like an out-of-body time travel experience.
Often sounds and other sensations outdoors – the rustle of leaves in the wind, warm sun on my face, the call of a bird – will also result in my vague “feeling memories.” Some memories I can’t even connect to a specific time or place , while others bring back a crystal clear glimpse of a moment pinpointed in time. All are accompanied by strong feelings: longing, contentment, peace, connection, joy, safety, and love. But the same is true for anxiety, fear, and shame.
Sometimes I am envious of those people with precise memories. People who can remember a conversation verbatim, recall the birth dates and other milestone dates for everyone in their lives, remember people’s names after meeting them just once, or who can tell you the personal or historical significance of any given date. All of these abilities have value. Certainty in what someone said or looked like for instance can come in quite handy in settling a debate or providing eyewitness testimony of an event.
But while I am somewhat envious of this type of memory, I’d not trade it for mine.
Life is about experiencing, is it not? And one cannot fully experience without feeling - observe, yes, but experience? Not quite fully.
Yes, I am sensitive: I sense, I feel, I experience deeply. And those moments of my life where I shut that ability off and deny myself feeling – whether by choice or in an effort of self-preservation – are those moments that I remember the least. Where days, months, even years go dark. Where I go through the paces without often allowing myself to feel all the feelings that make up life itself.
I hope it follows then that choosing to consciously embrace feeling, nurture joy, and develop intuition will heighten this memory. Imagine a full life remembered as a series of powerful feelings and sensations. Measure for a moment the dimensions of that against a memory filled only with facts and figures.
For all its seeming vagueness, lack of logical timeline, and sometimes indescribable memory traces (for they are meant to be felt, not recounted), I am thankful for my gift of sensitivity and “feeling memory.”
God chose it for me for a reason. And I feel that in my heart.
Feeling memory. Heart memory. Soul memory.