I have forgotten so many of the injustices and pains I am sure I suffered in my life. I have forgotten the sting of a burn on my arm as I reached into the oven without mitts. I have the scar to remind me, but I cannot recreate the actual moment of searing pain. Do I remember that it happened? Of course I do. Can I recreate the actual pain? Of course I can't.
I can't recreate the heartache of an eighth-grade breakup nor can I recreate the dizzy lovesickness of the beginning of a real romance. I cannot taste the first fresh strawberry nor can I feel the lightheaded burn of my first cigarette inhalation.
Do I remember these things? Yes, I do. But can I recreate them? I cannot. I think maybe anger is the easiest to recreate but even that loses its energy with time. Grief eventually gives way to sadness and then acceptance. All the big feelings -- especially the negative ones -- eventually succumb to time. They may turn into grudges or they may feed new discontents.
By the same process, all the big good feelings shift and change with time. And they to may change, mellowing like fine wine or a classic tune. They may even kindle up a new fire of feeling in the present moment that will, like all the others, make its presence felt before quieting down to something other.
Like the campfire that burns down and cools off, we cannot keep intense feelings going for too long. But that doesn't mean we can't keep the stories, the memories, the outcomes as a part of who we are always becoming. Indeed, it is precisely in the re-telling that we continually create who we are.