Taxing Memory

April 16, 2014 — Leave a comment

A few weeks ago, while gathering up receipts and paperwork for my taxes, I came across old journals/sketchbooks my sister gave me over the years to encourage (inspire) my creative nonsense.


The mound of paperwork and daily life had me postponing opening them until now. And my goodness. I opened one from 1996 and was… well… horrified. The terrible writing, gibberish, disturbing thoughts, really weird sketches. What on earth was I thinking?  Like this one. The image isn’t so bad but the caption next to it?

September 30, 1996. I have a single request, master–a warm bed. 


I scoured my mind for that place, that moment, that drove me to this image and that caption. It took no time; like a fast-moving fog that clears, I found it. Sort of. I remembered that it was a time when I was battling sickness, going in and out of the hospital, injected with all kinds of chemicals to keep me alive… and drawing creatures evolved from birds into flightless monsters that lived on an island, an unknown time, I can’t remember anymore. I suppose Freud would have a field day with my books.

That was a long time ago and I can’t help but wonder about that me that was dealing with so many things that feel so far from who I am now. But — and I don’t really think about this every day, but when it comes up from time to time, I realize how true it is — memory is an unreliable, untrustworthy deceptive beast, constantly changing. And as Albert Einstein puts it, “Memory is deceptive because it’s colored by today’s events.”

A few days ago I was having drinks with a close friend. He and I vented about recent challenges. New experiences and situations, emotions. Neither of us has ever lived according to traditional trajectories — get married, have kids, grow your 401k and save save save for retirement. We’ve both bounced around in our careers, relationships, seeking out experiences. Whether or not I’m being successful at this living thing, I’m not sure. I ask myself, Am I living well? Doing well? After some annoying thoughts that are far too heavy for me to approach today, I grab my Odes of Hafiz, ask the question again, crack the book open, and read the first thing my eyes land on. Huh. Here it is, page 128.


Well, that’s good enough for me–for today at least. Thank you, Hafiz. I will make that effort.



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