Tagged: Memory

On Forgetfulness

I am fully convinced that the greatest gift nature ever endowed man is the ability to forget.

This is all the more so in light of the fact that the very moment we enter the world is itself wrought with trauma and suffering. If only we could remember what it must have been like to be forced out of the comforts of the womb, only to be violently thrown out from our miniature and cozy abode into this, the most despicable and contemptible, world? If only we remembered — would we not curse our mothers forever?

That we are incapable of remembering the tragedy of our own birth is perhaps the greatest gift of all. If it were not so, I imagine the ensuing result would be nothing less than mass suicide.

In spite of this, there is a sense in which nature had in mind something especially vindictive with respect to its most tragic creation (i.e., man) when it endowed him with memory. This is all the more illustrated by the fact that we are more inclined to remember our moments of suffering, whether intense of banal, than our fleeting moments of contentedness or joy.

When I think about it (or rather, when I stop from making an affirmative effort to not think about it), I can say with all confidence that my most distinct and lucid memories are also the most horrendous. Just a quick survey of what I remember most from my 27 years of being in the world is enough to make me want to go into a deep coma forever. What’s most telling, though, is that I not only remember the specific events that brought about or surrounded my misery…but I am also able (or unfortunate enough) to remember the distinct  intensify of my suffering, and how miserable it made me feel. Thus, we are not only more likely to remember the quantity of our suffering — but, by some cruel joke of nature, the qualitative intensity of our suffering.

There is no corresponding phenomena when I attempt to look back into the depths of my memory for those so-called “happy moments.” Even when I am able to recall those moments where I, at the very least, thought I was happy — I have no sense or recollection as to how happy I felt, and certainly nothing that would compare to remembering the feeling of suffering accompanying my most dreadful memories.

Thus, even where nature has given man an immediate capacity in the form of forgetfulness to relieve him of his suffering,  it is still wholly inadequate for the task — for it is altogether incapable of walling him off entirely against he invariable onslaught of misery, sadness, agony, anguish, and disappointment that both defines and awaits him.