If we are an accumulation of all of our memories, then many of us are in serious trouble. Memories, like socks, often appear and disappear in random fashion. Sometimes, their appearance, like the errant sock, makes a match, and we once again capture a complete memory. More often than not, the lone memory, like the lone sock whose matchless mate has long ago been discarded, simply reminds us more of what is missing than what is remembered.
Failing memories create interesting scenarios. We find ourselves adopting other people’s’ memories, just as they adopt ours. We listen to a friend describe a funny incident and remember we were the ones who told our friend about it. We, in turn, engage people at diner parties with experiences that originally belonged to others. Our memories, like children in Socialist communes, are shared and provide pleasure for all.
We can benefit from the Swiss cheese-like pattern of our memories. While we may appear to be benevolent and forgiving to people who have wronged us in the past, we haven’t learned to forgive at all. We have simply forgotten whatever events angered us.
We blame menopause, the hectic pace of modern life, adult ADD. Whatever works is fine. As long as we make a distinction between normal age-related memory loss and the very serious conditions of Alzheimer’s and dementia, we are able to step back take a deep breath, and keep going. We may not know which direction we are going in, but we will create movement. And movement is what it’s all about.