Mark (generalist) wrote,

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The value of remembering vs the value of experiencing


This is a note that I wrote to someone I like, in response to her fears about the fact that she had recently reread some old journals and had been horrified to discover that there was material in them that she had no memory of whatsoever. I though my response deserved a wider audience.

It's a balance

It's a balance. You sound like someone who mostly lives her life, rather than being someone who records her life to be remembered and relived later. If you spend too much time recording life, you don't have as much time to live it. Yes, it's distressing to find out that you've forgotten some large chunks of your life, even formative experiences. And it's embarrassing to find out that you've forgotten the names or faces of people who used to be important in your life. But those experiences that you can no longer remember nevertheless have shaped you, so they are not entirely forgotten—it's just that now they are woven into your being in proportion to their importance, rather than in proportion to the time you spent on them.

I still find it somewhat distressing that most of my life is forever lost to me in the mists of recent time and vague memory. But the compensating factor is that my now is pretty compelling to me, for any value of now that has been or will be. I am really here, and really experiencing what is happening. People have found it charming, disarming, childish, and annoying, sometimes simultaneously. You, too, seem to be a person who is firmly connected to the now. Writing down a bit more and reviewing it might be incrementally helpful to you, but it's not going to change your basic mode, perceptions, or life. What will is accepting what is, not spending your life worrying about what isn't. That said, I still recall this quote to myself from time to time:

"A reasonable man adapts himself to his environment. An unreasonable man persists in attempting to adapt his environment to suit himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
                                George Bernard Shaw

Carpe Diem!

Cheers! generalist

Tags: people

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