The fallacy of an impeccable memory

I’m the sort of person who doesn’t rely on anyone. Doesn’t wait for someone to ask if I have eaten or if I am doing ok or if I need help. I’m the sort that people ask for help of. I’m the sort that does things on her own. I’m the sort that doesn’t wait.

I’m also the sort that doesn’t forget. If someone goes out of their way to care for me, they make a permanent spot in my heart. They stay.

I wrote this about myself a while back. Now, it’s become a lie. At least the second part of it has. If I were a Game of Thrones character, my characters title would be “Uzma, the One who Forgets”. When I go through my old posts, I feel like a different person wrote them. A person I don’t remember being. A better, unselfish, naive person who is not me.

I read a lot and a recurrent theme in the books I read rely on the character’s memories of their younger self and I think to myself, “That can’t be accurate. No one remembers what events passed on the night of April 16th, 1995. Not me, not you, not if the memory is supposed to be a happy one, or a scary one, or a traumatic one. It does not matter. I don’t remember who I was, what I was thinking, the names of people, the color of their clothes, and hair, and skin, and the shape of their eyes. I don’t remember anything except for a fleeting feeling of knowing that something happened because it feels right. How are these characters capable of remembering things that they as kids didn’t even realize would have been traumatizing to their adult selves?

The only real memories that are absolutely, startlingly clear in my hear are the embarrassing ones. The ones that I can recall instantly, and with a clarity that makes me feel like I am reliving them; the ones that make me cringe to the core of my being.

“Few things are more deceptive than memories” – The Shadow of the Wind

People don’t remember what u say to them, they remember how u make them feel.
My friend said this to me yesterday. It isn’t the first time someone’s said this to me. I’ve told myself this many times over too. Our mind is so very good at gist, at feelings. At the end to the day, they’re all that remain. The exact words, the looks, the gestures, the intonation, the expression, it all goes away. What remains is the way you made another person feel. It’s surprising how much we rely on just these feelings to judge another person. Ask a person for a direct judgments and they can never tell you exactly what they said or did to make you not like them, it’s just the bitter feeling they left that makes you dislike them. It’s no one thing. It’s just the impression.

We form friendships based on these. We fall in love based on these feelings. Our entire lives operate on these. What if this system is as flawed as we know it is when we read about it. Isn’t there a way to fix it?

Should we care to fix it? Should we hold grudge against people for something we think they did, that they don’t and/or have a completely different memory of? I don’t even remember the person I used to be and if I do, I think to myself how I had the energy to be so good since I am now so much worse!? Could it be that the person I hold a grudge against is also no longer the person they were? So, how can I hold a grudge against someone who isn’t who they were?

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

I finished this subtly mind-blowing book the other day. There, that is the review in a sentence. I, honestly, do not know what genre to put this book into.

I said in my Goodreads review that some or most books are about making loud statements. Books that feel like they need to shock you or scare you or shake you to get attention or to get their point across. This book isn’t like that. It is quiet. It is subtle. It seems mediocre until you get halfway through the book and realize the entire night has passed and you just kept turning the pages.

It has a very different method of making a statement. It could have been one of those fast-paced shocking thriller type but the author, Rachel Joyce, chose not to go down that road and I really respect the way she chose to write this because honestly, this is what life is like. It creeps up on you and you only realize how much things have changed when you look back on the life that you have lived and see the stark differences.

Most people who prefer to read the loud kind of books might not like it. They’ll tell you it’s the story of a man who takes a really long walk to go see a friend and his story unfolds in the form of memories and that is SO BORING. But honestly though, that is what makes this book such a great read. Because isn’t that what our lives are actually like?

What I loved about it was how true it was to life. An old man, not used to living a really active life since his retirement, chooses to take control of it and give himself a purpose to right a wrong he believed he did a long time back. He believed he could fix things. And in his own way he paid his penance for the wrong and at the same time came to terms with his own life and faced his own problems. Sometimes loss is what tells us how precious somethings are. How precious some people are.

This book weaves all the subtleties; all the truths of a life lived, into one man’s story. Of having never dealt with things, of never having fought for them, of never righting a wrong, of letting relationships go, of neglecting to do anything that could change things, of regrets, of loss, of guilt, of everything human.

I would recommend this book to anyone with half a brain.