On the futility of forgetting

Memory is a strange thing. Even the most tenuous of links can breach the walls of enforced forgetfulness, triggering the release of a barrage of memories once thought to have been successfully sequestered deep beyond the reach of even the most pernicious of random triggers.

There are the shared banalities, the simple everyday things which in themselves hold no sentimental value but which in the context of a shared life paradoxically serve to bridge the miles. She, bored in a work meeting, emailing you a doodle of the big fat goat head that is her boss, you roasting rice to dryness, setting off the fire alarms and eliciting mock sympathy from her, all in good faith.

There are the shared spaces, places inextricably bound to happier times. Neatly stacked rows of sweet corn in the local shop or the smell of fresh tomatoes triggering memories of shopping together a scant few months ago. Or worse, shared routines – blocks of time once looked forward to which now stretch interminably, snaking on and on into the distance like a string coiled on itself multiple times with no obvious end.

There are the shared connections, friends and family who once provided validation of a match seemingly made in heaven but who now are the shattered testaments to yet another failed sortie on the battle field of love. There is the nostalgia, a selective amnesia that remembers the happy days and paints a honky dory picture that really never was.

You know you haven’t forgotten when the heady highs of finally tracking down that bug amidst a few hundred lines of code has you reaching for your phone, almost automatically, to text her the good news. That is before reality hits you, reminding you that that phase of life is gone, there are new rules of dis-engagement now.

The truest lesson is the hardest one to learn – you never forget, you can only try to replace…. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, new life like a stubborn shoot rises from dead seed, but the old has to die first.