Expectation and Memory

“How could we endure to live and let time pass if we were always crying for one day or one year to come back — if we did not know that every day in a life fills the whole of life with expectation and memory, and that these are that day.”

– C.S. Lewis

This quote is from “Out of the Silent Planet.” The speaker is alien of an un-fallen race, the hrossa, which has never really known sin. (If you like science fiction or have an appreciation for strange books, check out Lewis’ Space Trilogy. I highly recommend it.)

Lewis sets up a high standard here, and I don’t think he really expects us to never be sad. Those of us who are fallen will always have sadness (and sometimes regret) looking back at the past. We lose good things all the time. Unlike the hrossa, we live in a fallen world, hampered by our sin, and still somewhat separated from God (even when we have his Spirit). Death and other kinds of loss are heart-breaking, and God never tells his people not to grieve. We should rejoice in all circumstances, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also cry.

Nevertheless, I really like the idea here that expectation and memory are more than just “not currently having something good.” They are part of enjoying something. To take a small example, you can enjoy a good vacation while you wait for it, while you experience it, and while you remember it. The trip is all of those things, not just the 5 days you were actually on vacation.

To live is to look forward and to look back. We live in the present and we act in the present, but we carry our hopes and our memories around with us. They are a part of us and a part of everything we experience. We should appreciate them more.

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