Better to have loved and forgotten

There’s a glitch in my programming, or maybe it’s a bug-by-design. I’m a good reader – good in that, I can read anywhere (hours of car rides on family trips were no problem), and good in that, I enjoy reading so very much. Good in that I read with open ears and open mind.

The thing is, once I close the book after the final page, I forget everything. I mean, everything. So if you’re looking to discuss it with me book-club style, I hope I finished it the day before because otherwise, no chance. (Actually, that’s what I do – I read the book club books the day before, so I can actually participate in the conversation. After that window – poof!)

A weird bug, yes. Is it that I’m a fast reader, so I don’t absorb it properly? It could be. But the same is true for movies, so.

But this glitch offers a benefit: I can read the same book again years later, and it’s like reading it again for the first time. And if it’s a book I truly loved, that’s a gift.

That’s what happened with The History of Love, a book I read probably 15 years ago; not only did I not remember the plot or point, I don’t remember who gave it to me or in what context I read it. What I do know, and what I’ve known for the decade+ since, is that it left me breathless. It shifted something in me. I was so incredibly moved by it that it stuck in my very top all-time favorite books list, though for so long I couldn’t tell you why. I kept it (I don’t often keep books) because I knew one day I’d read it again.

All that, based purely on the feeling it gave me.

And I did read it again this past week. And it left me with the same altered state – as a reader, that I had gained something by reading it. As a writer, inspiration. As a person living life in these times, that’s there’s always a story somewhere, cherish life and find a way to tell it.

I could feel silly about forgetting the sources of such inspiration – is it true inspiration if you can’t even remember the context it was given? Is it better to have loved and forgotten, than to have never loved at all?

The more years pass, the more technology runs the world – the more it’s true, and the more obvious it is how much we have to cherish the feelings we’re left with – from books, from movies, from actions, from people. It’s the essence of our humanity. This is a short, tangible life, but with the tangible comes the opposite, the disappearance of things. The fading.

I was thinking the other day how it used to be; we didn’t carry cameras to every event, to every outing… to every room in the house. We didn’t take photos of mundane things, and not even of all non-mundane things. And somehow, we remember them, as snapshots. And they warp, and fade, we forget the color of the dress or the exact corner of the room, but the feeling it gave us… exists.

The moment we’re all in right now, it’s not even close to finished. One long, dragged out moment, last weeks, months, I don’t know what comes next. Neither do you. It’s too big to hold in my mind, and it’s definitely too big to be a photograph, or a series of them.

I suppose I’m just looking for some moments to love, and forget, and feel, and be left with something. Something better than the snapshots the world is taking, handing to us, haunting us with.






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