Please Don’t Make Me Go to The Park This Winter

I’m a nature lover unlike what you think

Photo by Nick Scheerbart on Unsplash

If you had asked me two years ago where was my favorite place in the city, I would have pointed out the park without even a blink. It was where I found the moment to reflect on my thoughts. It was where I took the fresh air I couldn’t take in the office walls that had no real windows that one can open. The park was also where I went to enjoy the snow and sun — a place where I happily experienced four seasons.

Ask me now where is my favorite place in the city, I not only never mention the park, but also the word triggers me a little. Sounds like nonsense, right? How can a park trigger you when actually nothing traumatic happened there? It triggers me because it reminds me of a time period when I didn’t have any in-person contact with other people and was physically distanced, thanks to you know what. No no, Covid19. Let’s say the name of it and get the power away from it. C O V I D!

I would be lying though if I said I only had cold memories in the park during isolation. I met my friends socially distanced, I had a picnic, I finished books laying down under a tree. But my brain chooses to remember the sad version of those times now as it’s winter again and I fear the possibility of another lockdown. This is what our minds do. We either choose to remember the good version of memories — the lessons, people, and happy moments we miss from the past, or we choose to remember the negative stories and carry them like a burden with us. So my brain now seems to ignore the happy memories I collected in the park and reminds me of the sad and lonely times I spent there hence the trigger happens even if the park is not a place where I go with the same purpose anymore.

But what do I do now? I want to like the places I used to like and not relate them to the isolation period anymore. It’s like never being able to listen to a song you loved just because it reminds you of a person from the past.

“Go laugh in the places you’ve cried and change the narrative.” — Unknown

An article in The New York Times suggests a technic that is not so linear in the process of forgetting the memory but requires engagement with the past moments. Sounds easy but I can imagine how triggering it can be for a person who went through a painful traumatic event rather than my innocent trigger, which might sound like a childish one to others. So how do we do it in practice? Scientists say that we can change the narrative of the memory and intend to see the parts that are not shameful, humiliating, or upsetting. So, every time I go to the park now, I’ll intend to remember the beautiful moments I had even in isolation.

It’s like the times when I sat under my favorite huge, old tree with at least 20 arms and I felt protected under it. It’s also like when I went to the park and wrote my first Turkish article that was published on a leading wellbeing website in Turkey. Oops, there you go, the memory of cold winter appears again at a time when I was tired of the sky going dark that early. Nope, you go away memory! I’m now rewiring back to the time I had a warm cinnamon roll and sat on the bench enjoying a cozy moment, kids screaming around as if there was nobody around them. Why can’t we be like children from time to time and be allowed to scream just because? Well, I lost my way a little but I am doing it.

The thing I like about this technic is that it doesn’t delete an event from our minds. Because I strongly believe that everything serves us in a way as long as we can take a lesson from the dark times — excluding here very bad experiences a human can go through. But in my example, I wouldn’t want to destroy my ability to learn to love being on my own at dark times and be my very own best friend for months. I wasn’t able to do that before. Without this event, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get this skill. So, I don’t want to forget those times but I want to edit its negative impact on me by actively seeing the good side of a bad time.

So, if you have ever gone through a bad period in your life and want to forget all about it, perhaps this is your sign to see the light in the dark and remember the good things that happened around/after that event. Maybe it got you closer to the person you always wanted to be? Maybe you felt closer to your family seeing they were by your side? Maybe you developed a skill to thrive after a challenge that you’d never think you would survive?

“Memories are what warms you up from the inside. But they’re also what tears you apart.” — Haruki Murakami

Which way do you choose?

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Begüm Erol

Begüm Erol

Freelance writer | I write about #self, #life, and #wellbeing. If you are looking for research-based tips, follow me and let’s connect! IG: @begumerol_