Live As Though You Remember

It occurred to me this morning as I was researching my ‘manuscript in process’ that I have used the idea of “remembering” early in each of my historical novels.

“I’ve been tempted to lose count of the years as each comes and goes, but I remember.  Remembering is important.” – The Olympian: A Tale of Ancient Hellas, 2008

My real Babcia,
Marcianna Orzolek
1895 – 1975

“The old folks like my Babcia … shuffle with the same movement they used in bygone days when they stood comfortably on skis.  You can always tell when thoughts of those days enter their minds, for at those moments, smiles transform their faces.  They remember.  Babcia says it is good to remember.  “Never forget the wonderful things in your life,” she tells us.  “If you never forget, they will always be a part of you and will forever bring you pleasure.””   — The Hamsa, 2010


“Remembering is a funny thing.  As a young man, I heard folks say that old people lose their memories.  Well, sir, if I’m 100-years old now, I suppose that qualifies me as old, but you know what?  If I lost mine somewhere, I must have found it, because I still remember.  I suppose that’s because remembering is the only thing for me to do now that the others are gone …” — Tobit and the Hoodoo Man: A Mystical Tale from the Civil War South, 2011 

Less than two months ago, we wrote a post titled “What Did You Forget.”  In it, Auschwitz survivor and 1986 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel is quoted as saying, “To forget means to deny the relevance of the past.”

One of the most common phrases associated with the Jewish Holocaust in World War II is, “Lest We Forget,” although the phrase forms the refrain of Rudyard Kipling’s 1897 poem “Recessional.”

For several days, I have been reading David O’Rourke’s The Holy Land as Jesus Knew It: Its People, Customs and Religion.  Fascinating book and very valuable for my current project.  O’Rourke explains that the basis for Jewish education was the written Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament.  In the Greco-Roman world, the basis for education was the written classics like Homer’s Iliad or Plato’s Republic.  Though the books might be different, the method was the same:  commit the words to memory.  I suggest that the task of the young Jew or the young Greek in the first millennia was far more daunting than what our children face in the classroom today.

The major Jewish festivals today remain the same as they were 2,000 years ago.  They are festivals of remembering.  As O’Rourke explains in his book, “More than anything else, [Jewish children] were taught to remember.  Remember who you are, remember what God has done for you and for us, and live as though you remember.”

I think the final phrase is the key phrase: 


As we move forward in this new year, let us not deny the past, and let us live as though we remember.  With those concepts in mind, we are less apt to repeat the same mistakes and less likely to make the same, bad choices that might have grown into less than desirable situations for us and the world around us.

Remembering is Important

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