The days blur into one another. The years. I eat too fast. I try to slow down, but something keeps pushing me forward. To the next bite. The next sentence.
Do I remember the tune I hummed yesterday on my afternoon walk? The taste of the apple and dried apricots? The uproarious conversation I had with a friend? I bulldoze the past, preserving so little of this life: not taking the time to jot down an interesting moment, not putting the photographs into a scrapbook.
And here comes the future, great democrat: a handshake for everyone, and for everyone the kiss of death. Here comes the future, knocking down huge buildings, and the little temples I build in my head.
How sad and hilarious: didn’t I want to be here now?
Andrew Weil: “The vast majority of people who think they are losing memory are not: the secret of memory is attention. If your attention is not in the right place when something goes by that you want to remember, you will not remember it no matter how good your memory is. The secret of attention is motivation: in fact, many of us are not really as interested in remembering as we think we are.”
We forget how broken we are, and how divine. We forget that self-government is no less mystical for being so familiar. We forget that we belong to the natural world, rather than the other way around.
Life lets us do what we will, and insists only on consequences.
In a survey published a few years ago, 28 percent of Americans — men and women, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, young and old — did not know what the Holocaust was. Twenty percent of the respondents who had heard of the Holocaust believed it possible that it had never happened.
The events that shaped me are remote to my daughters, but the same was true for my generation. I remember, as a child, seeing movies made in the twenties; the actors seemed to move with jerky motions, and I wondered if people back then had really moved that way, if they’d been jerkier.
A singular experience becomes a memory, then a faded memory, then forgotten. Time wipes his greasy lips.
I saved a small bar of soap from our hotel room in Venice, where we spent all afternoon making love. In the canal below, gondolas and water buses passed by. Light flooded the bed, our faces. Church bells chimed. There was laughter and shouting outside, and strange sounds, too, coming from the dark streets of us.
What do I want to preserve — in a world of impermanence?
I love to be up early, but I don’t always greet the day with a smile. Sometimes my dreams are haunted. Sometimes I stare too long at the headlines: what a haunted dream of separateness I find there! But reality is bigger and more seamless than anything I can say about it. Every day, the sunlight reaches for me across millions of miles.
Remembering to be grateful for the chair that supports me.
Remembering not to lecture God when I pray.
I tried to understand something about forgiveness. I wrote a letter to my dead father, then tore it into small pieces. I carried the pieces around for years before I buried them. I forget where.