Have you ever wished for a complete do-over? I don’t know anyone who hasn’t, at least a little bit. Nearly everyone says (and I’d bet EVERYONE THINKS) “If only I knew then what I know now.”
Recently (and I wish I could remember where) I read about a man with a particular type of amnesia, that hit him every few years and would wipe his memory clean. He’d remember stuff like how to talk and eat, but had no memory of events, people, that sort of thing. When he married, he told his wife of this, and so she keeps a very detailed journal of his life. He’s had an event twice since they married, so she unpacks her wedding dress and holds another wedding for him. She gets the journals out and lets him read all about his life up to that point, and fills in the blanks.
You know, sometimes I wish for that. Sometimes (and I know I am not alone in this) I wish I could erase from 1976 to 1985, the whole 9 years. Oh sure, there’s a few good memories in there, and someone is bound to say in the comments something about how who we are today is a result of our experiences, and I get that. But so many times I look back at those times and it’s hard to see the good in there. It was a rough time of my life, I made a whole lot of terrible decisions that have caused a whole lot of terrible regret. I hurt a lot of people, said a lot of things that should never have been said, and did a lot of things that never should have been done.
Yes, who I am today is a consequence of who I was then, and I kind of like who I am today (most of the time). So, I’d like to erase the memories without erasing the lessons learned…maybe. Can you even do that? The woman with the amnesiac husband said his character doesn’t change, just what he remembers. He falls in love with her again, each time…how exciting is that? To go through brand new love again, with the same person, without having to remember the hurtful things you may have done…that’s pretty remarkable.
So yeah, I often think I’d be willing to give up the good memories in order to get rid of the bad ones. I’d be willing to have to relearn the skills I have (since it’s not as if I ahaving to support a family with them), and read about those years in an impartial sort of way. Like..
“Oh, I played trombone in the band. Ok. Do I know how to now? No? Ok. That’s probably a good thing.” or
“No boyfriends in high school, a record collection based on parental shock value (apparently that didn’t take much, as anything that wasn’t Perry Como or The London Philharmonic was shocking), and you say I only smoked pot twice and didn’t like it either time…ok, I won’t try it then.”
Now and then a memory from that era will pop into my head, or I’ll say something that will cause one to bubble to the surface, and I’ll think “Oh no, not one of those..” and wish for amnesia. Not complete, just those 9 years. I haven’t kept up much with friends from that time, not really, so I can assume they haven’t kept up with me, and no one will be missed one way or the other. I don’t live there, nor do I foresee any reason to go back there, I simply cannot see a good reason why I need those 9 years in my head.
And here I am, 30 years later, you would think this would have been enough time to be able to put it all in a box and shove it into long-term storage, but it’s never that easy, is it.