Shanghai! The city of my childhood is a place of memories for me. As a girl I spent many hours walking alongside this river thinking, dreaming, talking with friends. I took this photo on my trip to China last month because of the memories it evoked.
Remembering is an important part of who we are and the person we are becoming, even when some of those memories are painful. My grandmother’s home was just near the river and I spent a lot of time with her, but now she is no longer living and I miss her – I miss her wisdom and her courage. At the same time, I am grateful for the time I had with her, the love she gave me, and her belief in my abilities.
Do I regret the powerful influence she has had (and still has) on my life just because I miss her? Not for a moment! In fact, I know that as long as I remember her, she lives on. Our dead are not really dead unless we shut them out of our lives.
We can’t live in the past, any more than we can live in the future – because we truly do not know what a day will bring forth, but we can draw strength from the past to help us make the most of today and shape the best future we possible for our children and grandchildren.
My sister and I shared many memories during my visit, and we created new memories which we will take into the future. One of the most exciting parts of my visit was taking the high-speed railway to Nanjing. Nanjing used to feel a like it was a long way from home – even if you fly you still need to get to the airport and check-in, but with the bullet train our trip only took just over 1.5 hours. It really felt like the best of both worlds – we had a chance to see the countryside, but the journey took almost no time. There’s something to be said for speeding up the journey – you can pack a lot more memory-making into it!
So we come back to that quiet river in Shanghai which has seen so much – peace, turbulence and change and which is deeply embedded in the memories of many Shanghai residents. Just looking at the photo gives me sense of being grounded in something bigger than myself, and gives me the energy to create memories in the present that will build a joyful future.