I am amazed at how people find time to post to their blogs in the run up to seasonal festivities. While I am sure not all of you will be celebrating, and while it is possible some of you may be visiting elsewhere and therefore not in preparation meltdown, I am sure many of the posts I have been reading will have been crafted in the midst of chaos. I salute you!
I was interested to read the reflections of the immensely talented BottledWorder about when to write, and when not to write. This is not the same point as above regarding prioritising and finding time in the midst of other pressures. But I’ll contrive that segue anyway. Bear with me, my dears. You knew the dangers when you signed up for this mission.
BottledWorder was interested in the effect on writing of memory and immediacy. Some blogs I read are “of the moment” and others are more considered and so distant in time and experience. There is no right or wrong (there is no try, only do or do not!); my own writing is a shambles of both reflection and immediacy, depending on my mood, the weather, the state of the public transport system and whether there is an R in the month. On a good day I think of it as a jolly little pot luck offering, on bad days nothing more than a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
I started this blogging journey to try and record memories. I have failed miserably in my original aim, which was to capture somewhere the stories of my family and childhood before senility deprives any potential grandchildren of the pleasure of hearing about the day Grandma got stuck in the toy box, or how I learned to walk. I can tell these stories to family and friends easily, but writing them didn’t work very well. Perhaps I should try again now I have had more practice.
However, then the spooky thing happened and the brilliant, sparkling FOG wrote about forgetting.
So where are we, or more importantly, am I (because it is all about me) left in the conversation about writing and not writing, expressing events in the now or mediating experience meaningfully, remembering or letting go of memories?
Having a demented parent has made me more anxious about my own forgetfulness and a blog seems even more than ever a perfect way to record events now, before I lose them. But for what purpose?
Watching my mother rewind her life, I see she is happy if absent. She seems to be vanishing down a long tunnel, fading into the distance, as I drive forward with my life, work, children. We are leaving her behind and moving on. I hold onto the knowledge she is happy because it matters. I am sure she is happy because she sings a favourite song all the time, and smiles. At this stage if she was unhappy she would cry or shout. Some days she is quite lucid but unaware of the other days. She doesn’t care. In a way I am jealous.
I can’t ask her about the past because the story is different every time, and rather than go off on a tangent about the nature of truth or reality, suffice it to say her memories are no longer fixed or certain. She answers questions or says things to fill conversational gaps or be helpful. It’s very creative really, just not reliable testimony.
If I end up like my mother, it won’t be a burden. She has shed those. But I will lose the chance to share memories, which I think are our immortality. We become the story told about us, and we try to influence it to our advantage. Other people may jump in and muddy the waters by sharing the information that the delightful, generous, upbeat, beautiful and generally gorgeous EBL is in fact a bad-tempered, bossy, interfering old biddy. Both those views have truth. It depends on the R in the month. And whether you do what I tell you.
So I think my memories are my future. So long as I share them, whether immediately as a record of experience or later as a reflection on learning from experience. How and what I share tells you about me as a human. Do not assume the description is a Universal Truth, or even that Universal Truth exists; everyone views the world differently both in the present and in memory – you have only to look at witness statements of events to see the evidence of that. What we say is about who we are as people, not about what “actually” happened.