Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Memory is an Ass

The subject of this piece is memory.  And I've been dealing with a ferocious issue that involves memory.  Since my earliest known awareness, I've had a  sharp edge of clarity regarding memory.  Until now.  And since I've gone through many tests, a number of scans, and have put myself through a number of memory building exercises without any restoration, I have my worries.  As you may read below, memory is both a gift when the treasure is a happy memory, and tragedy when the subject has PTSD, or something similar.  Not all of my memories are horror stories, but sadly, despite losing much of my memory, the PTSD I have remains.  I'll have the test results of where I am relatively soon, and my hope is they'll lead us to treatment and recovery.  If not, the journey continues.  As it always does.

"Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out." Anton Chekhov

I remember visiting my Uncle Leo and Auntie Joan's home filled with cousins for Christmas, and during the summer.  It was a glorious time, and restorative to my soul.  Those cousins remain my closest family.  Another memory that I cannot forget was when my wife and had to go on various long car trips across country.   While Minnesota is home, we took some adventures, short lived, but nonetheless, exciting. We moved to start new, first in Charlotte North Carolina, then later in Casa Grande, Arizona.  The car trips were exciting, and on the way to Arizona we were accompanied by our darling Russian Blue cat Misha.

But not all memory is good, and most of my crisp memories sadly are not good ones.  Time after time I was told something happened a certain way, but it so did not. My parents often recited events from a treasured trope, a well memorized set of details, whether accurate or not.  My family was not, likely, different than many families.  But I chafed at the perceived dishonesty.  When I confronted anyone I was told that I had a chip on my shoulder and that I was wrong and all those things. In a case I showed a person photographic proof, and the person in question said you are wrong.  I said, ok, realizing that the real message was, "I prefer the story over the truth".   I am not a literally minded person.  I am someone who takes the spirit of the law, not the letter, I think of the whole picture, not the detail.  I get frustrated by people when they get hung up on tiny details and miss out on knowing the truth.  But, I cannot cure that in others.  No matter how much I might have ever tried.

An example of someone preferring the story over the truth...  a person who had (and still has) never beaten me in EA Sports hockey for Nintendo wanted revenge, so he brought his PSP and his EA Sports hockey.  I had not played that system, ever, so I said I need to play a game against the computer before I play humans.  I chose the Winnipeg Jets, the computer chose the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Within the first five minutes the bullies of the Leafs knocked out for the game Teemu Selanne.

 Sadly, not only was this a killing blow to my chances, by this time a crowd was gathering, the person with the system, his father, and eventually his mother.  The three were Toronto Leafs fans.  Despite the fact that I was playing a meaningless game, against a computer team, I was in a hostile "arena", playing with my number 1 player in the trainer's room.  I lost 3-0, which, playing the unknown system, in a hostile arena, and yada yada yada, wasn't that bad.  

However, the person who owned the system, 20 years later has told anyone questioning that he beat me, that he beat me 3-0, and that he knocked out Teemu Selanne.   But now, of course, you know the truth.  He either knows the truth and is lying, which I don't think is the case, or, he so wanted this to be the case, his mind created a small leap from the truth to a story.  The fact that he has never beat me is not a big deal to me.  He makes more money in a year than I will in my lifetime.  He is powerful, and successful in the eyes of the world.  I am not, so, for me, it is a small victory, and one that I am content to know the truth about.  He can say whatever he likes, because the truth is considerably different and I possess that knowledge.

I have personally experienced many instances of learning the truth and then nearly simultaneously learning or realizing that the world doesn't know the same.  Many times, the world is not even a little bit interested in knowing the truth.  Whether it was in studying the Bible, experiencing in grad studies epiphanies or mass amounts of information in International Relations trends and statistics regarding world hunger and starvation, Climate Change (on either side of the debate actually) or even the simple argument that people will fight to their dying breath, popularity does not = quality.  People prefer the easy news over the unpleasant information.  I am not above the hypocrisy of the world, I guess I am just more aware of my own hypocrisy, and due to fatalism I allow myself to be paralyzed by the views of others, when I can't change the world.

"About three years went by and I had become exhausted - really at the end of my rope almost - and I thought I couldn't last much longer... and at the very end, when I thought of giving it all up, suddenly I thought it was good. I knew that I now understood something about it and I painted it as easily as you can imagine." Milton Resnick

Control of your memory in the form of stories is about conformity.  By getting you to agree to the stories of your kin, community, country,  you become part of the overall culture.  By rejecting it, you are a rebel, an outcast, loser.  You are not normal.  You SHOULD be normal.  Why can't you just be normal?   I’ve been told, commanded in fact, that I should try to be normal.  But normal in my experience is a big old bag of shit.  I am an outsider and I don’t care to look inside that world.  I am unable to exist in a world that embraces materialism, consumption, and false notions of worth.   The story is preferred over the truth. 

“Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.” Edgar Allan Poe

When considering worth, how do you measure it?  Are you a genius? Well great.  But if you are an ugly guy who is a genius, do you get to have a spouse and such?  I know a few who are a genius and live lonely even desperately lonely lives.  Maybe society does value surface level things, and needs to look deeper.

1 Samuel 16:7 "Truly, God does not see what man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord sees the heart.”

Worth is more than personal looks, making profits, and buying and owning shit.  Worth is about what you are inside, are you moral, do you love, do you care for others, what you give to the world, and what you add to the life of everyone who you know. Why do we care about normal and conformity?  The world seems to both cry out for an individual to have a broad individualistic spirit and to crush that spirit and call for strict adherence to herd conformity.  Perhaps the world’s secret is bi-polar.  

Here I am linking my argument about memory to being an outsider versus conformity.  I guess I'll never stop thinking about how I fit in, or, not.  Maybe I should forget about that question, and instead ask, why is it so important to everyone else that a guy who sucks at playing nice in crowds has to join their crowd?  Why should the guy who can't function in group settings join a group and learn how to be amongst others?  I am 51 years old, can't I just accept the truth that I work best alone, that my family are the kin that I want to be amongst, and life is good enough?  Yes.  I can accept that.

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