My friend Katie often launches into telling stories about her day to day life, then pauses midway through the telling. Next, she realizes she has already told me about the incident several times before. Katie usually says that she was having a “senior moment”. What is amusing, is that she is nearly 30 years younger than me.
That type of forgetfulness happens over and over, often regarding the same anecdotes and stories. I chalk it up to Katie being a social butterfly who encounters many friends and acquaintances each day. Keeping track of what she told to whom must be quite confusing.
We all forget. Forgetting is part of the mental housekeeping our brains do, otherwise our mental chattering would be even more distracting than it already is. Daily living is dependent upon finding the balance between remembering and forgetting. Our well-being, identity, and sanity require basic remembering. Likewise, our well-being, identity, and sanity depend upon forgetting. Hopefully we remember what is necessary and forget what is not.
As we get caught up in the details of day-to-day living, we can easily forget important things like friends’ birthdays, anniversaries, and our appointments. To remedy this problem, new apps are dreamed up and appointment reminders are available for our devices. I don’t like them for a couple of reasons. They can be annoying distractions when reminders appear while I’m doing a task. Also, you have to remember to enter the event into the reminder app.
I think it’s easier to simply have a wall calendar that has plenty of room to jot appointment times and friends’ birthdays. I have the main calendar in the bathroom. While brushing my teeth, I glance at the page and am reminded of what I need to remember. The conventional calendar is great because no batteries are required, there is no worry about software glitches, and there’s a pretty photograph for each month.
The calendar is backed up with a conventional book-format day-planner. This contains reminder details and memory jogs for routine daily events. There is a separate little planner to list the topics of this blog to remind me to research details.
In matters of interpersonal relationships, the business of remembering and forgetting things is magnified. For instance, regarding my partner, I sometimes forget to ask about something that is important to him. He sometimes forgets to remember things that are important to me. This is when we are reminded to be patient. I’m still annoyed that he has the habit of forgetting my birthday.
Then there is the problem of cultural forgetfulness. That is when the mindset of a nation is forgetful of historical precedents. Such is the importance of remembering our culture’s past mistakes and glories. This helps us understand our society’s destination. In this way, we can avoid making the same mistakes again and again. This also helps us remain mindful of our freedoms and how easily they can be snatched away from us.
Perhaps the most harmful form of forgetfulness, is the failure to remember that everyone on Earth is also a human being. Everybody has aspirations and hopes. We all have pain and loss, too. Today’s society seems to have forgotten this fact. It’s time to remember it again.
The balancing act of remembering and forgetting is a fine art for individuals and society to practice.