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|The Non-Remembrance of Things Past - Page 2|
Thanks for the Memories
Once upon a time, you may recall, you had a ton of memories.
First, there was all that personal history, all the things you felt and did and thought: treasured successes (admittedly, a tiny handful), regrets and disappointments (regrettably, more numerous), your mother's funeral, your first day in kindergarten, those insane-making worries and jealousies that used to go on and on, forcing you to waste all your days and nights preparing for eventualities that never came to pass, the otherworldly sight of the immensity of the Grand Canyon at night, your eldest's first day in kindergarten, the punch your chin took in 6th grade whose sting you still can feel, unanticipated moments of inexplicable bliss (like that time in the car on that winding road in Virginia when "Eleanor Rigby" came on the radio), stuff you did yesterday, girls you kissed 25 years ago—a nearly bottomless bulk of experience that made you you.
And that was only the start of it.
Packed on top of all that, another mass: innumerable bits and pieces of knowledge of the outside world that clung to you like the nose on your face: Oscar winners and state capitals and NBA and Major League and NFL statistics and playoff results going back decades and song lyrics and social and political horrors and injustices that made you livid with rage and plays and books and TV shows and God knows what else. Once upon a time, all those numberless memories were quite content to rest quietly in the comfortable home you'd built for them, loyally waiting to be called into action whenever they were needed. And when you summoned them, they came.
Once upon a time, that is.
Things are different now.
For some time, you've had a growing awareness of a phenomenon that at first amused, but soon began to trouble you: those memories of yours, once trustworthy, available 24/7, have become erratic, unreliable, either fuzzy at the edges or nowhere to be found, like those barely-remembered dreams that wriggle out of your grasp. Nowadays you're stunned by how repeatedly, how indiscriminately, forgetfulness keeps rearing its frustrating and frustrated head. It isn't just "Hey, who did win the AL batting title in 1948?"1 or "Now, where did I put those keys?"2 but "Damn, what was the name of that company I used to work for when I was in college?"3 and, "You know what? I'm not so sure I ever really did go to the Grand Canyon. Day or night."4