Here I am writing about memory. I’m the guy who spends half of my day looking for things I had in my hand five minutes earlier. Never mind finding myself in a room wondering why I went there. The good news is, that this is only the short-term memory guy falling asleep on the job.
Long-term memory is a different matter. I can remember images and incidents from when I was 2-years-old. I remember the good things and the bad which shaped me into who I am today. I know how I got here and why I came (despite standing in the kitchen wondering what I wanted in there.) I know what I want today and why I want it and how long I wanted it. My wants and needs also describe who I am.
Today, I have a sense of appreciation and understanding about memories. When I was in my early 20s another car slammed into mine on the driver’s door; I was driving. I awakened in this room with very nice people, but I didn’t worry too much where I was or why I was there. I do remember the blue clothes these people wore, but, yes, short-term was gone. Then entered this gentleman, not dressed particularly well. He kept glancing at me while talking to these blue people wandering about. He claimed me and I went with him. I didn’t know where I was going, but that didn’t seem to bother me much. My long-term was gone, too.
He told me he was my father. OK ... I was much more interested in looking out the window. The amnesia seemed absolute. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know me. For the next few weeks the people around me really doted on me. They constantly asked me what I needed. “Friends,” at least that’s what they said they were, drove me in their cars to places which should be familiar to me. Nice people. Nice car rides.
Often I’m told how frightening it must have been for me. Not at all, I didn’t have a problem in the world. Surely heaven must be like this? It was blissful. I was blissful.
Once, when my sister brought me a plate of food, I said, “Thank you.” She looked back at me oddly, and then said to my brother, “That’s the politest he’s ever been to me.” They both laughed as she walked out of the room. Did a new peace and harmony just enter the world?
My memory slowly returned, and slowly I became Tom Scholl again. As my memory returned, so did my problems. In fact, I discovered I had new ones now that my vacation from myself was over. So many things were left unattended for so long.
But the “bliss” was a disguise. I needed my memories, and I needed to reclaim my problems to be who I was. I didn’t need to be waited on; I needed to respond to the world about me. No matter how weak, or ill-suited this response was, it was my response.
People may think me brilliant or think me stupid, but they remembered me and put my responses in the perspective of what they remembered about me. Remembering me was a part of who they were as they responded to me. Memories run our society.
When my mind was empty of any memories, had they poured my brother’s memories into my brain, I would be my brother. It puts a newer perspective on who we are and how happy are we about it. We have a lot of control on what we remember; we decide many of the memories we own. Something happens, we respond. Be carefu1;`what is it about our response we want to remember? It will shape who we become as long as we remember it. It seems easier to make good memories during a holiday season; then, on New Year’s, we can resolve to continue making them.
Heaven should not be a blissfulness unawareness, or only good things we look back on. Bad times, some we caused, some we didn’t, will contribute just as much to who we are. Perhaps, the goal is ensuring, to the best of our ability, the good memories outnumber the bad ones.
Looking back, there is one thing I learned; it’s frightening. We may not know it at the time, but there is little worse than sitting in a chair finding everyone around meeting your every need with your mind empty of memories.
Tom Scholl is a resident of Macon. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.