I am so utterly torn by this question.
For a start, I am forgetful, and I’m worried that this essentially means I am not learning anything. Or at least not enough. Forgetting is to ignore, right? It’s our brain making us ignore the facts of what has happened. Ignorance is bliss, but it’s dangerous. Being blissed out generally means not actually paying attention to anything but your self. Dropping out of the world and history to just seep into that glorious hedonistic whiteness.
I’ve done that. I’m pretty sure it’s seeking that that’s hurt me most. And it’s certainly what’s made me hurt others most.
Or maybe that’s just me. My heart is broken and dangerous and misguided.
And those are times I want to forget but won’t let myself. I prescribe penance for myself, a perpetual always on memory of the shit I have done. The hurt I have caused.
And everyday I want to forget but never let myself.
So I associate forgetting with unhealthy detachment. Putting distance between us and the things we are and have been. Forgetting what got us here leaves us woefully unprepared for wherever we’re going. Forgetting is solipsism stretched through the dimension of time. It is selfish greed for now. No thought to the past, just gallopping inconsiderately into the future.
I want to forget all my habits and safety nets. I want to forget what it’s like to feel safe in this cocoon of infrastructure and consumerism. I want to forget how to assuage a feeling of guilt, loneliness or upset with a new toy or a rapidly gorged box of cakes.
I want to forget this civilisation I’m nesting in. Step outside and commune with older ways, already forgotten. Try and suddenly remember the things forgotten, by forgetting the things learnt over the top of them.
The world is different now, but that doesn’t mean we have to forget what is was like. And we certainly don’t have to forget what it could be like.
But to do this, do we have to forget the moment we’re living in? The moment we’re trapped in?
Or should we push to be further in it. This now. The time is now. This is the instant of change. The potential for everything.
And every moment that I fail to change, is like a bruise on my memory. A failed turning point. An unwillingness.
Shall I forget that? Or shall I spend more moments moping on it?
I try to remember it all. The past, the present and the future. To remember it’s all one thread. The causes of the now, the moment we’re in, and the everything that can and will come from it.
The world is too big to remember all of it. But. Well. We must try. We must try to remember from the future, and from outside ourselves. We must forget ourself just enough to see through other eyes.
Then remember it again, expanded.
Don’t forget to remember.
Illustration by Helen.