A fond memory is a pleasant recollection that inspires feelings of affection, gratitude, and happiness. Fond memories infuse the feeling of the present moment with a positive resonance. In an vital way, the energy of affirmation emerges out of the past to touch us in the here and now. In other words, the influence of a fond memory is not confined to the past; it benefits our health and wellbeing in the here and now.
One of the effects of aging is the constant expansion of our past. With the accumulation of experience comes the expansion of memory.
It is interesting to note that the word “fond” originally meant “foolish” or “silly.” In this pejorative sense, a fond memory is a recollection tainted by an overabundance of nostalgia and sentimentality, as if to say that the good old days may not have actually been quite as good as we have deluded ourselves into believing. Fondness, from this perspective, is a form of entrapment in a memory that has lost its connection with reality. Fondness has degenerated into grasping on to something in the past that isn’t really there.
A fond memory can easily morph into an imaginative attachment; the fondness we project into a past way of life may simply be a response to the discomfort and unease we are feeling in the present moment. The song “Those Were the Days My Friend” is a song about longing for the return to earlier days because the reality of the present moment has become uncomfortable and disappointing. Sometimes a fond memory can become a secret longing to escape from an undesirable way of life; fondness turns the past into a sanctuary that can never be reclaimed.
Fondness can also characterize a memory that generates an authentic sense of affection and love. In a positive sense, fond memories are thresholds into the authentic heartfelt positive resonance in our life, without the trappings of nostalgia and sentimentality. In this sense fondness is a form of truth, happiness, and joy, which is also to say, fond memories are essential to our own health and wellbeing.
The idea of “strolling down memory lane” refers to the reminiscence of good times. We are strolling because we are relaxed and taking our time revelling in the positive resonance of a memory. As long as we first remove our rose-coloured glasses, our stroll down memory lane becomes a natural source of comfort and nourishment for body, mind, and spirit.
Still, life in memory lane is always changing, growing, and evolving; memories are never static scripts that we mechanically replay in our mind. Our presence in memory lane constantly influences and alters the environment in subtle ways. Each time we return for a stroll down memory lane we do so as a different person. Each time we return to the memory, the lane itself looks different.
The cultivation and preservation of fond memories is an act of self-compassion. There is more than enough fear in the world; in listening to the average news report it becomes glaringly apparent that we are suffering from a positivity deficit. We need more positive resonance in our lives, more kindness, goodness, compassion, empathy, and trust. Fond memories are uniquely our own and a primary source of innate positivity in life.
The song “Thanks for the Memory” portrays a fond good-bye between two people whose relationship has come to an end. The underlying message of the song provides a marvelous contrast to the often painful and volatile emotions that can plague a relationship breakdown. Perhaps the message behind the song is a useful way to move through all the necessary endings we are required to experience throughout the course of our lives, including the inevitability of our own ending.
Fond memories are a remarkable source of personal kindness and inner generosity that can positively influence the present moment. When we can peer into our memories and lean into moment of authentic love and affection we are accessing deep internal sources of solace. The preservation of memories that inspire gratitude imbues our presence a greater lightness of being.
In the end, a fond memory is a blessing from the past and a form of grace that reaches across time to touch our spirit in the heart of the present moment.