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.


8 thoughts on “On the futility of forgetting

  1. indeed. i have the same selective amnesia also… but one that remembers only the bad times. shame on me. i guess because i recorded all the good times, but never mentioned the bad times until it was too late.


  2. …when all has been done, our memories never quite fade away. And though the pleasant ones might be reminders of times long gone, we can only preserve them.. whilst making peace and accepting the end of a chapter… and moving on.


  3. First time here, you are indeed right. I ve been in quite a similar bind of recent. I find that little things often trigger fond memories of her but then you snap out of it and realize its over and you have "moved on" You can move on but you can never forger especially if that someone meant something to you at some point.


  4. I am a stubborn woman but even I know there is no other explanations for the lump in my throat when I catch a whiff of his perfume on someone else. There is no forgetting but there are new memories waiting to be made. A new scent waiting to pervade your sub consciousness…


  5. "…you never forget, you can only try to replace…" or ignore, supress but, never forget. Be that as it may, not forgettting really ought not mean, not moving on.


  6. Well, I actually think that you do forget stuff sometimes. There's things from my childhood that I have absolutely no memories of no matter how hard my brother and mother try to remind me. Those memories are gone for good. But iIget where you are coming from though…..


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