The Importance of Reminders

photo by Flood

photo by Flood

Some days I wish I were a wise old sage, able to conjure the profoundest of philosophies to complement any moment or opportunity that might present itself. Or I wish I were like Wilson from Home Improvement, a human library filled with quotes that spanned centuries of the greatest thinkers throughout history. I see websites devoted to reflective quotes and their everyday application to our lives, I read stories of people who were seemingly inspired to do their life’s work by a brief passage in a book.


A Wanna-be Guru


It’s inspiring to live with your mindset in these contemplative places, but I sometimes forget that nobody really lives in them 100% of the time. Try as I might, my roster of memorized quotes and their sources is slim, maybe a handful at best. So when I am trying to remember the right bit of condensed wisdom for the moment, I’ll silently chastise myself for not being a walking encyclopedia of thought. Or maybe I’ll reprimand myself for not applying one of my own recently formulated philosophies to one of life’s scenarios.

This might be because when I come across an idea that I really connect with on a deep level, I want to be able to hold onto that feeling forever. Those times that I say an enthusiastic “YES!” are times I want to keep at my disposal for the next time it directly pertains to my life. It’s as though I want to be in a constant state of epiphany. But an epiphany is, by definition, fleeting. It’s a moment, and moments—as with all things in life—don’t last forever.


In Search Of Moments


So I have come to appreciate a pretty great little thing in life: the reminder. Well-placed reminders help an average guy like me (who can’t think like a scholar all day) add a thoughtful edge to daily life. Reminders help me pay it forward and keep the wisdom going, instead of just hoarding it all in my mind where it’s not always doing a whole lot of good. And now I know that there’s a pretty good reason why I can’t retain all of the smart, inspiring and insightful things I learn: because reminders are just one little but important part in the elaborate and undeniable network of human connection. Hearing that much-needed reminder when I’m having a bad day isn’t important because of my inability to remember good advice; it’s important because I get to hear it again from someone else. Not only does that help it ring true a little more, but it inspires me to pass it along. It’s a tiny confirmation of my place in the universe, not to sound too grandiose.

And so I’ll keep trying to retain all of the great things I hear, mind as much like a steel trap as possible. But I certainly won’t speak poetry every time I open my mouth (or very often at all). Most of the time I need someone else to do that for me.