Slippery pig memories and tails wagging dogs

DATELINE: December 26, 2020, from Lady Proverbs, somewhere on the Oregon Coast

Grabbing onto memories can be a slippery pig chase in a corn maze. Sometimes incidents in our lives from long ago can feel like they happened yesterday, and things that just happened eight months ago can seem like foggy, long ago dreams. Why is that? The Husband and I moved back to Oregon from the east coast 18 years ago, but that seems like a recent, vivid and close-by memory. And then I think about when I needed to live with Mama Bear for almost 5 months starting in March 2020, and that seems like a million years ago, even though it was just earlier this year. Hmmmm… How do we grab those slippery pigs and find the exit to the corn maze of memory?

There’s probably a psychological or temporal term for all that memory relativity in a book or on a website somewhere but I’m not feeling like naming it will give me the answer as to why this time phenomena occur in my and your head. In my case, the easy answer would be that difficult memories are those which I don’t really want to remember: my sister dying, my father dying, Mama Bear suddenly alone and me needing to live with her for a while. Then happy, interesting or compelling memories, us moving back to Oregon, The Husband coming to live with me in Africa, seem close at hand. But I know it’s more complex than that and not solved in a blog post with just little old me trying to figure it out.

A friend of mine who I met about six years ago had a photographic memory of the first order. His siblings used to hate him for it because they couldn’t win an argument because he remembered the details word for word, as though he were replaying a tape recording. It just wasn’t fun to fight with him. Then removing a serious brain tumor from his head took that skill away from him. That was before he met his wonderful wife. I told him that was a real good thing. Can you imagine being a woman married to a man who remembered every word ever said in a good argument? The marriage would never have lasted.

But for most of us mere mortals, we selectively remember, perhaps based on the vividness of the original incident, whether good or bad or somewhere in between. How much we paid attention at the time, what mood we were in, who was there, our age, our emotional state, and our intellectual state related to information absorption and retention. Oh, and how much pot we smoked or whiskies imbibed.

And then there’s 2020. The year we wish wasn’t. The year with a lot of devastating memories, for some people far worse than others. As we near December 31, how will we remember this time? Will it be foggy, devastating, a trauma trigger, an anger trigger? Will we remember and take heed of what we learned and all of the good stories that came out of the year, from innovations and shake ups in medical care, food service and entertainment, to understanding what a high-touch society we are, and how much seeing each other matters? Sharing a meal or a drink or a coffee with good friends and family is a big part of who we are. We walk and run and hike together, go to the movies or the theater or a concert, share birthdays, walk on the boardwalk, fly without worry in tin cans high above the earth. We simply like each other, and the power of touch is not a conspiracy theory. I hope we all can agree that it is real after our shared experience of 2020.

Will we ever NOT think about all the “droplets” being sprayed willy-nilly when someone sneezes or coughs in the grocery store line? Or licks their fingers to open one of those damn plastic bags in the vegetable section? Will we even want to stand so close to each other again or will we panic if someone closes the six foot distance between us? Will our masks become relics at the bottom of the toy box or junk drawer, or will we keep them on, wary of living life without our trusty germ-fighting friend?

Well, it’s going to be a trip watching what we do once this shit has passed, whenever that will be. I know I’m going to watch it all closely, because the tail of this monster is going to wag the dog for quite a long time!

Oh, and happy Boxing Day, and hope your holidays have given even just a little joy or hope, or perhaps a small smile. Cheers mates!

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