My friend Deb and I were discussing memory in a text conversation this morning (ah, the wonders of modern technology). She was telling me how recent events in her life have been stirring up painful memories. And I thought about recent events in my life, and how life would be easier if I could wipe out my memory of them. I mentioned something about memory being both a blessing and a curse. It’s wonderful when you remember fun times, beautiful places and beloved friends. But sometimes, memories just remind you of pain you went through, or things that you’ve lost. Even remembering a good time can be painful if that memory is of something that’s gone forever, and it makes you miss it even more.
I wonder if I would be willing to erase my memory of something painful, if it meant wiping out both the good AND the bad memories of that thing/event/person. I’d forget the pain, which would be a blessing, but I’d also forget the good times. And there aren’t enough good times in life to forget any of them. So, I guess until I can find a way to pick and choose which memory banks to delete, I’m stuck with a basket full of good and bad memories, intertwined.
Anyway, I came across this posting from my old blog, and thought it was interesting that five and a half years later, I’m still pondering the same things. This is for you, Deb.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2007
Memory – the pros and cons
Do you ever wish you had one of the Men in Black’s devices? A pen-shaped tool that, with a flash, could erase the memory of something?
We all have them. Times that we embarrassed ourselves. When someone hurt us. When we wished we could get a do-over, turn back the clock and erase that snide remark, that painful comment. That ill-advised costume worn to the Halloween party. That drunken rant at the office Christmas party. That week or year of our lives that causes such pain when we think about it.
Granted, all of those times form who we are today. But sometimes, don’t you wish you could skip over some of them? I don’t mind if they’re a part of the fabric of Beth, but I wish I didn’t have to remember them. My memory is so bad – why can’t I forget that time I made the wrong impression? That bad decision that sent me down the wrong path? That secret I shared that came back to bite me in the butt? That person who broke my heart? Instead I forget the good stuff – or at least the important stuff. (If I say I’m going to call you, but don’t write it down, know that I will forget the minute you leave. Sorry. Those brain cells must be busy remembering more important stuff…although I have no clue what that might be.)
My sister remembers everything. And I mean everything. Regular readers will recall the story about the milk and the trees. She was 2-3 years old at the time, and yet she remembers it. She remembers the clothes she wore to a specific dinner with specific friends in the eighth grade. I can’t remember the eighth grade… Sometimes I wonder if it’s a blessing or a curse to have such a good memory.
I know time heals all wounds. And I know I HAVE forgotten most of the painful stuff that happened in years past. The stuff that derails me, that takes my breath away. I’m blessed that my life has been filled with more good than bad. I just wish there was a way to expedite the process, to be able to select specific memories and send them into the HOV lane of forgetting. To replace them with good stuff, etched onto the rock of my memory. So that every time I access those files, the great stuff would come up first, and the not-so-good stuff would wander around lost in the void for a while.
So today, I wish you forgetfulness. I wish that all of the painful thoughts disappear, and good ones come rushing to the surface in their stead. I wish you a smile, instead of a frown.
And if anyone runs across one of those pens, call me.