Monday, January 12, 2009

Stirring Memory and Desire

Years ago there was a television series called "The Wonder Years". It chronicled the life experiences of a middle-school age boy whose main goal was to win the heart of his first love. The show was often charming, but after a time it wore on my nerves, mainly because there was nearly constant voice-over narrative that was highly detailed. The truth is, no one could remember that much about each individual day of his life. If we could, it would probably drive us crazy.

Memory is a strange thing. I don't have such moment to moment memories as the kid in The Wonder Years, but what memories I do have, I like to believe are my own. Yet recently, I have twice been present to hear stories of my life told by other family members as if these events happened to them. In each case, I am sure these are my memories and not theirs, so when did they appropriate them?

I have heard it said that if one hears a story enough times, they may incorporate it so that after a while, it seems like a memory rather than just a story of their childhood told to them by others. Perhaps this is what has happened. Or perhaps there were only so many stories to go around and my mother told us all the same ones, so that we all think these things happened to us.

I didn't bother to stop the stories or question the storytellers about these memories. I simply sat in a confused state and pondered. Would I upset some delicate balance in their lives by challenging what they believe was an event that shaped their futures?

This blog is often filled with memories, it is its very purpose. To consider that I may have only imagined some life-changing occurrence might cause the very foundation of my life to crumble. So I will continue to believe that my memory is intact and accurate and feel compassion for the other members of my family who are clearly starting to grow old and forgetful.

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