Sometimes, it’s good to forget. I’ve forgotten more than I have ever known. It’s been said that “knowledge is power.” I’m not so sure. Forgetting might be where the true power lies. The ability to let go of the parts of my life that cause me too much pain, that hold me back, that hinder me from becoming all that I might be seems like a skill that I could practice. Ah, but that’s just my wishful thinking taking me prisoner. What I describe is denial. Denial is putting a wonderful, tasty frosting on a dirt clod and passing it off as a cupcake. I’ve eaten a lot of dirt clod cupcakes over the years.
Let me begin again. Maybe power isn’t found in forgetting. Power may be in what I do with the bits and pieces I remember. Ultimately it’s up to me to create the story of my life. Power lies in the fiction I tell myself while linking the pieces of my memories together. My story becomes powerful because it is my own. The fiction I invent is the glue that holds everything together. I write this “fiction” to create who I am because it is so easy to forget.
Forgetting things has become increasingly normal. Often a dull gray fog descends on my brain. When the streets and avenues of the mind are hugged by this dense wet cloud, it’s hard to remember. For example, in this last sentence the word ‘know’ came out as ‘no’. I didn’t notice at first. Things like that didn’t happen 20 years ago. My mind was much keener. Forgetting was both easier and more difficult. Now, I worry that this new level of forgetfulness is a sign of rapidly advancing senility. Fortunately, worry doesn’t last long. I forget why I am worrying. This is the sweetest gift of forgetting.
When I hold the bits and pieces of my memories in hand, I often wonder how they all fit together. It’s a puzzle with some of the pieces missing. I sit down and begin. When a piece of sky is gone, I make a new one. When a chunk of landscape is mysteriously absent, I quickly sketch a replacement of my own making. The details in my memories are less based on facts and more on impressions. I remember most what affects me most deeply. I make the details match the depth of my feelings. If I took offense at something innocently said, I remember only the feeling of the imagined insult. My mind creates the rest, putting words into the mouths of others, not because that was said but because that was what it felt like.
Some times forgetting tries to protect me. A self-imposed amnesia settles over things that were too painful to accept. Years later a sharp shard of re-membering breaks through the fictional surface. I’m left holding a bloody reality in my hand. In soulful mourning for the loss of innocence, I howl at the moon. Fiction felt better than this. The dirt clod cupcake still tastes like dirt. I decline a second taste and begin again.