Friday, July 2, 2010


1 a : the power or process of reproducing or recalling what has been learned and retained especially through associative mechanisms b : the store of things learned and retained from an organism's activity or experience as evidenced by modification of structure or behavior or by recall and recognition

I just finished a really good book. Near the end of the book, the main character, Maerad, encounters someone who conjures powerful memories long suppressed.  And while I really enjoyed The Naming and eagerly anticipate reading the second book in the series, it left me a little sad because it forced me to confront my own reluctance, resistance and/or outright refusal to remember.  I find myself arguing internally about the value of memory.  Do I really have to remember or can I just leave my memories buried?  Can I be who I am now if I repudiate and/or forget who I've been?

I think I know the answers to these questions, but they aren't the answers I want.  The definition of memory makes it pretty clear that it's nearly impossible to simply leave memory behind.  If memory is the "store of things learned and retained from experience," do I really want to leave that behind?  Even if I want to, it seems unlikely that it's possible to leave behind what is learned and experienced.  If that's the case, why is memory so slippery?  Why do some thing stick while others slip away, slink into our subconscious or bury themselves only to eventually peek through the scorched earth of our minds?

My husband posits that he doesn't remember things because he doesn't spend time going back to the well of his memory often enough to keep it fresh, but I have found myself actively pushing away memories that appear in my mind.  I don't want to go back to the Shannon I was.  I didn't like her much then and I don't care to voluntarily spend time with her now.  I like who I am better than who I was, but I fear until I make peace with both - the then and the now - I won't ever fully be who I'm meant to be.

As I explained through tears to J that I enjoyed this book even though it made me sad, he remarked that we read books so differently.  I invariably apply the book I'm reading - fiction or non-fiction - to my life.  J, on the other hand, says he only does this when someone else tells him to for the purposes of a study or a group discussion.  Perhaps it would be easier his way...

No comments: