Sometimes the lightness or the forgetting comes from organic sources, as in “it just happens.” I walk into a room with a task in mind and it dissipates as I arrive on the threshold of the room of the intended action. I may rinse and repeat this action up to 3 times before remembering what I came to do. Given I live in a one-bedroom apartment I am logging only steps but the chasm is huge in my hummingbird brain. Sometimes however, the forgetting is the necessity of healing and moving on. That is a more deliberate and difficult task, which takes redirection over and over from a memory, either bad or good. A memory that has burrowed it’s way into my brain and wants to take up residency in defining who I am. It wants to tether my worth to its contents and that is too high a price for anyone to pay. So I work on forgetting, on letting go.
This type of forgetting is temporary; I don’t want to erase the memories of a first kiss at the edge of Central Park with the snow flying. I just want to file them away for a day when they make me smile and appreciate how beautiful the memories were instead of the sadness attached to the rest of the story that followed. There are times when the past is just that, and other days where it comes spilling out of the radio, a movie or an email and takes up residency in my Now.
Those are the days I work on being lighter. Lighter in the way I choose to redirect and focus on how badly I need my eyebrows threaded, my toilet scrubbed or a yoga class to center. Instead, I make the choice to stop playing a memory tape that has been presented to me and let it go even for just that moment. I have a touch of OCD so derailing the crazy train has been difficult at times. To look away, pull myself away, or chisel my attention away from the memory, the issue or the bag of Twizzelers sitting on top of the refrigerator feels like a betrayal. But in reality it, it being the forgetting, is exactly what I need because I am hyper-focused and lack perspective. I get that by stepping away, so I need to forget for a little while to achieve that.
Stepping away from a memory is not bad, nor good, it is just about being in the moment and learning what you have right now. I spent a lot of my younger days looking forward, projecting what might happen, playing out endless scenarios in preparation for things that never came to pass. I invested my days in speculations and missed all that was unfolding right before me. So forgetting in the future tense is as important as forgetting the past.
As an example: some years ago after a mammogram I got a call that the test showed a small lump. They didn’t know what it meant and other tests had to be done. I started imagining every scenario that might play out and almost none where good, though I did get a great draft of a eulogy I wanted read. I came to find that it was nothing, a small cyst. I had jumped ahead to lots of things that were ugly and that made me sick and anxious before I knew what was true.
The next time this type of opportunity presented itself I did it differently I decided that bad news was a lot like Pizza Hut I didn’t have to go looking for it, it delivers. So I waited till the data came back and then acted on what is. I used my new skills at forgetting and even used denial till all the facts were in. You don’t know till you know and that is all there is.
There are people who use forgetting on a daily basis. My sister Chris is one; she does it organically on waking. Each day is new, bright and shiny as she has a head like a sieve or colander. All of the events of her day run out her ears at night and when she wakes she has a fresh start. It does make those around her a little cranky as they always have to give her a replay of events, but it makes her lighter. She can laugh at a movie she has seen 100 times with the same enthusiasm and enjoyment. How great is that, huh?
There is a gift in forgetting and coming at life new without past prejudices and fears, a gift in stepping away from a memory for a little while to heal, and gain perspective. The lightness that forgetting brings is powerful. So when I come into a room for the third time and have forgotten yet again why I am there, I need remember to send a memo to the Super Hero Justice League to let them know I really can use my powers of forgetting for good too, and then maybe they might return my calls.