When Your Dog Died, Remember?

Remember when you were a little kid, maybe five years old, and you were watching something on the television? For whatever reason you liked it, you really liked it, but you didn’t have the same concept of time you do right now. A half hour in front of a television when you were a kid seemed to last longer, because you hadn’t developed a sense of time the way you would later in life.

At five, you’re not thinking about everything you have to do, a job, school, death, bills, alcohol, or any number of things that will invade your thoughts later in life.

Later in life, your thoughts will be crowded by much different issues, depending on what’s going on.

Even at the age of ten, you are still a kid, but now there are team sports, you’re beginning to notice other people as a gender, as a function as attraction, your ability to read has evolved, you’ve done things, illicit acts, your parents would worry if they found out, you realize life is more complicated than it seemed five years ago, and five years ago seems to be a long, long, time.

But then at twenty, ten years seems to be a long time, and at forty, if you’ve been married for five years at that point, it may, or it may not, seem to have lasted forever.

But then at fifty, see how I jumped there, because the older you get the shorter ten years can be, but now a half hour show is short, and how television is used, movies, binging, DVDs, series, makes the experience so much different.

Your memories, what actually happened, never really did. Yes, of course your dog died when you were five, and it hurt. But each year that memory is changed by who you’ve become, and who you once were is gone, and so is a vital ingredient of that memory. The person you are has no idea who you were because you have no mechanism to feel that change. All you have is memory, and because you cannot remember a password you reset an hour ago, you know memory is flawed.

            And this all gets much worse.

            You were sad your dog died and you still are sad when you remember the event. That tells you all you need to know. It’s the emotion of the event, not the event itself. You might not even recognize the dog if he walked up to you, but surely you would, because of photos and videos, but would you really know? It’s how you feel that creates memories, not the physical world. Do you remember the day of the week, what you were wearing, the hour of the day, the color of the shirt of the vet, a million details lost forever, added, deleted, forgotten, changed, but pain lingers, doesn’t it?

            Were you five? Your sister remembers you being six. Your mother remembers it happened much earlier. If you have photos or a video, you have a touchstone, something that defines the moment in a certain way, but that doesn’t mean you remember it. It simply means you have a way to identify the time.

            You can’t remember an overwhelming percentage of your life, you fight hard to remember names, you have to write down passwords, and someone from your past, you know you know that person, you went to school with them, but who in the hell are they?

            You don’t remember. You rarely do, actually. Yet you let what memories you do have to have you, to control how you feel, and to judge you.

            Let go of the past. You really do not remember it.

Take Care,

Mike