I keep diaries (this one and my private moleskine) for so many reasons–one of which is the fear that I will forget so much of my life. I am afraid that these beautiful and terrifying moments will dissipate into nothingness, and then what will I be left with? Why am I living them if I’m never to remember them again?
I’m disturbed by the fact that I don’t remember much of my breathing life. What do I remember from my college years? Off the top of my head, maybe a handful of things (what my dorm looked like, the boyfriends I had, the terrifying organic chemistry exams, ordering pizza late into the night, jumping up and down on the bed with friends, to erasure music with the lights off). If I push myself to remember more, I’ll remember a handful more.
What do I remember of high school? Less than that of college. And of elementary school? Less, still–perhaps the feeling of the wind on my face as I rode my Schwinn bicycle, or of going to church and memorizing verses. The memories come a lot more slowly than those of college.
So much has gone into the atmosphere, or into deep dark recesses in my mind, almost utterly lost. I can come up with pages of memories–but still, that is nowhere near all of it, there is so much that is unretrieved. I cannot possibly remember everyday of my life, though I KNOW that each day was rich with experience and feeling. Even last week–what can I remember?
I am not the only one to have such a fear: a poster on moleskinerie muses on this concern as well, coming up with a unique answer (in her case, she sums up a day in one sentence–now that’s a slow way to fill up a moleskine notebook).
My tactics for combating forgetfulness entail many more words–I couldn’t sum up most of my days in one sentence.
As you see here and can imagine in my moleskine, I have a huge fear of forgetting my memories and I frantically write them all down, try to document my life. It is NOT easy to remember in general, and I often wonder why memories have to be “cued” and such, and why we even forget. I do not remember all the days of my childhood, even though each one, while lived, was so acute and bright to me. Everything fades.
I do not like this fading.
Complicating this fear is my recent stroke, which left most of December and January a blank in my mind–a much more horrible loss had I not spent much of it somehow writing frenetically in my journal, even if sometimes it was nonsense and jumbled with evidence of my aphasia and a damaged thalamus.
At least, with those words, I had an impression of that experience, if not an exact representation of what actually happened.
I am trying to remember every minute of London–frantically saying to myself, “Did I write that down? Did I write down every sensation and feeling and emotion?” What about sliding down the Carsten Holler slides? Do I remember every second of that terrific swoosh down to the ground? Do I remember the unpredictability of the twists and turns, the electric feeling of falling, the enclosed sliding tube full of my delighted screams?
Of course, years later (or weeks, or months later)–I will have forgotten. I will have to thumb through the pages to remember exactly what happened, and what I’d felt. I may remember, but it will be a general impression until I refer to my journal. How odd is that?
And then, how does this all translate to my fiction, which oddly, is my focus as a writer (yes, this despite my obsession with this nonfiction blog)?
How does fiction, if at all, satisfy my fear of forgetfulness?
Fiction is not a work of documentation, but of creation itself–do I turn to it because in fiction I am relieved of this insane fear of forgetting?