“There’s something I believe. I want to live my life trying to carry all of my memories with me. And even if those memories are painful, even if they do nothing but hurt me, I want to keep them. Even those memories I sometimes wish I could forget. As long as I can carry them with me, as long as I can keep holding on, then someday I’ll be strong enough that those memories don’t hurt me anymore, and I’ll be glad that I have them. That’s what I believe, with all my heart. That’s why all my memories are precious to me. I don’t think it would be OK to forget a single one.”
– Momiji Sohma, Fruits Basket
Episode 15, “There are No Memories it’s OK to Forget”
There’s not much I can really add to the meaning of this, I think.
As for context, Momiji is a young boy whose family suffers from a very old curse. That curse makes it so that a dozen living members of their extended family will turn into animals from the Chinese Zodiac, and another turns into a cat, when held by members of the opposite gender. The curse takes effect the moment they are born, and Momiji’s mother did not take it very well when her baby boy turned into a baby bunny in her arms. She could not handle it. The family has a way to deal with that, because they do have the power to make people forget their memories.
So, when Momiji says this, he is speaking as someone who was deliberately forgotten. He is the memory someone chose to forget.
He is speaking as one who was dubbed a source of pain by his own mother, and cast aside, an act that costs him both a relationship with her, and one with his little sister. He keeps going, a little ball of sunshine in people’s lives, not because he’s naïve or free from pain, but because he knows pain, and chooses to smile anyway. He accepts his pain, and keeps it, and hopes for something better.
His entire jolly outlook on life is defined by a quiet strength rooted within his pain… and his hope.
There is something deeply inspiring about that.
I can’t say that I’ve had anything like a hard life, certainly not as hard as others I have known, but I have known pain of several varieties. Everyone has, or does, or will. Sometimes that pain can make us wish that we’d avoided everything leading up to it. Sometimes it hurt more than we can bear, and we wish that we could just forget it all. Maybe we’d go back and poke holes in our own history, so we didn’t have to feel… so much.
But I am of a mind like Momiji. The pain I’ve felt has, of course, hurt. Memories, some of them very good at the time, have been poisoned by pain. But I refuse to let my sorrow cripple my joy. No, I think I only appreciate the happy times properly because of the sad ones. I’m not such a strong person, but what strength I do have, I have because of what I have endured, and because of what I have cherished. Life, love, family, friends, stories, I have cherished. Loss, loneliness, defeat, frustration, powerlessness, mistakes, I have endured.
I have known pain, and I will know it again, possibly very soon. But even if more of my memories come to make me cry, as they now make me smile, I will still hold them dear. They will simply be a part of me.
Even if they make me weak for awhile, they will still make me strong.