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"I did what?"

August 4, 2016


I have a notoriously bad memory. I will willingly admit this and with unusual self-awareness and dash of humor explain that any memory that is slightly unsightly about myself is about 99% blocked. “Remember that time you had friends over and had a pudding fight while we were out?” my mom will ask.  Pudding fight? I don’t even like pudding. Friends laugh and think I am kidding but I am not.


There is an Iranian Proverb, The best memory is that which forgets nothing but injuries. Write kindness in marble and write injuries in the dust.


I am pretty sure that for me this dust thing is part of my coping mechanism, and all joking aside I think that is what I do. I ostrich. But instead of burying my whole head in the sand I selectively tip the injuries out and carry on.


Overall I am cool with this strategy, but I do wonder what I am missing. I’ll listen to my sister recant her memories of our childhood, or my daughter tell the story of how I sent her to Kindergarten on the bus only to have her arrive on a day there was no Kindergarten. (This one makes sense as it does imply bad mothering = unsightly behavior on my part). But when my sweet girl will ask “Remember the time you forgot me?” I look at her like she is wooden girl, I’ve carved to love whose nose is growing. I used to think she made this stuff up until I realized she didn’t. Just dust.


I have noticed that sometimes the good memories have escaped as well and I wonder if by not holding them tight enough am I missing life lessons, or some critical data point? Should I be working to chisel these good memories into stone? I suppose that Facebook is the modern equivalent. Instead of a chisel, a check-in and photo share seals the deal.


Facebook memories aside, memory happens automatically. It is like breathing or walking. We don’t teach our young to remem