As a writer, I collect words. Going so far as to receive a new word, in my mailbox each day, from Dictionary.Com. I do that because they are not common words, not the stuff of everyday usage. I actually enjoy exploring their epistemology, where they originated and how they have changed over time, their history. The word that titles this post has been sitting in my mailbox for a week, just waiting for me, because the moment I saw it, I knew I wanted to write about it. But, I also wanted to give myself some time to gather my thoughts, which exploded all over the place when I read its meaning. It means: the process of forgetting.
Because I am also a creator of images (artist), I like to introduce, and enhance my posts with images, my own more often than not. This morning, when I came here, I didn’t have a clue which image I would use, so just started looking through my media library. When I found the one above, I figured it was perfect. It’s a pen and ink line weave doodle I made nine years ago, and it has always made me think of a woman, seated with her back turned, with all of her myriad memories clinging to her. They change and are altered by simply existing, moving one from another, flowing together as memories have a tendency to do. Meaning one thing in the moment, but pulling up others that somehow connect with them. Some of those memories are precious, held and kept close, while others we’d prefer never happened and often push away because they hurt or distress us. But both have value because they help us to understand the individual we have been, and that one we are becoming.
I have good memory function. Not eidetic, or what is called photographic, but more like good recall. When I read something, and later want to go back and check it out, I can usually remember what book it was in, approximately where in the book it might be located, and sometimes even which page (right or left), and which position (top, bottom, or middle) on that page where it might be found. Of course, add strong emotions ( like relationships) to that, and it becomes a different story.
Forgetting is a natural part of living life everyday. And that has been the cornerstone for all of the writing that I do. If one writes it down, one is far more apt to remember it, most of the time. Writing it down means making note of it, making it noteworthy. We make grocery lists because we don’t want to forget what we need when we are there in that huge supermarket being stimulated by all those people and choices, colors and noise, smells, and a ticking clock. How much more important to remember special people we meet, occasions that altered our way of thinking, or changed our patterns of behavior, good or bad? Words that we hope we may always remember, or attitudes we wish to mirror?
We already know that we are prone to forget, to lose track of things we wish to remember. It is a part of life, and a piece of everyone’s experience. It is oblivescence. Although I agree with Clarrissa Pinkola Estes, when she writes that nothing is ever lost from the human psyche, I also know that we do forget, especially when we most truly want to remember. We pick things up and set them down elsewhere, then spend lots of time trying to recall just where we put them. But, like the woman who spends an hour trying to find her glasses, only to find them perched atop her head, instead of on her nose, we have simply placed them elsewhere. Perhaps on the top shelf of a terribly cluttered closet in the back hallway of the mind. Like those bright red mittens, now faded, but kept because they were a gift from someone who truly understood our love of the color and the real warmth behind the giving.
That’s why I really started writing. Keeping notes on what I wanted to remember. I had no way of knowing that it would become more than a desire, but a calling, and eventually a profession I would teach to others. This blog was started ten years ago, and no, I don’t remember everything I’ve written. Which means I come back here, not just as a writer, but also as a reader, pleasantly surprised, at times, to find sense and meaning in what I’ve done. But also to remind myself of who I am, what I want to be, and even how much more I could still do.
The process of forgetting has a purpose. It makes room for more gathering. We want to remember certain things, or deny that others even happened. Memories help us learn, sometimes what we don’t want to be or become. Forgetting is not always a permanent loss, more often it is misplacement. And writing is the greatest tool for keeping certain things where we can find them again, and even learn more from them.
This one word had me pondering for days. And no, I haven’t even scratched the surface of all that it brought to mind. That might come out in further posts. It just helped me to remember how and why I love words enough to keep writing them.
Elizabeth Crawford 2/6/2018