I don’t know if you do this.
Maybe you do this. Maybe it’s universal:
measure all other memories by this one memory you have.
Not necessarily a dramatic or rambunctious one.
For me it is the time I sat in the bamboo patch next to my uncle’s junk pile.
The main quality is one of peace. I was about 3-4 years old, so not in school yet.
No obligations. Summer. Warm – I had a beagle pal cuddling and watching out for me.
I was wearing bib overalls and a felt hat.
Watching chickens, those nourishing animals, scratch in the dirt.
Watching their shadows, and the shadows of the bamboo, playing in the light.
Listening to the sounds the chickens made.
No other humans to make happy or proud or otherwise perform for.
Just the peace. Lots of time. Animals. Plants. Smells. Interesting light.
It’s a lovely memory, but measuring all other memories by that one sounds dangerous. There is no peace like the peace of a secure childhood, but there is growth.
It wasn’t necessarily a secure childhood. The feeling in that memory is kind of a baseline for me – no great joy but no angst either, no connection but no loneliness. By calibration I mean, I could (but rarely do) compare other memories to it – is this better or worse?
I think you are right that it is a place to grow from rather than return to.