What I am Failing to Remember

from The Thing (1982), by Drew Struzan

I keep feeling like I’m on the cusp of remembering something, and everything I do in a given day contains bits and pieces of an overarching design that I need to recover. It’s like the feeling of a recurring dream, lost in the course of waking. I can’t tell whether or not these wisps of memory will resolve into anything concrete—whether it’s even a real thing I’ve forgotten. It might just turn out to be some old dream, something that was never important enough to rise to the surface and inform my life. A rewarding story hidden from view for a while, full of recollection and significance but not attached to anything real. Remembrance for its own sake.

I keep encountering little things that seem like the forking branches of a creek, but never find the headwaters. The trinkets washed downstream are always individual memories, things I’ve reminded myself of before or things I’ve done. If everything informs everything else, as I believe it does, then these larger patterns of thought, laid out like the framework of a skeleton, are more valuable than the smaller things that prove them real. They could be the key to it all.

Each recollection contains a whispered strategy for reaching a goal that I yearn for deeply. The goals themselves, the obscure objects of my desire, are all pressed together indistinguishably and reside in a dark, internal place. And the strategies themselves, the things I remember over the course of an afternoon, aren’t that much clearer. At their most specific they represent a niche situation in reality: how to run far; how to endure moments of extreme effort or intensity. 

This is maybe why I’m so invested. I’m hoping that whatever I find will be some theory of everything, a unified way to live which will render any goal of mine attainable. And even if there’s nothing there behind the veil, and I can’t ever figure it out, the act of looking seems significant because it’s a search for my personality. It’s an affirmation: there are designs hidden within me that seek manifestation, and the inklings that point towards them are important because they prove that I am a man with the capacity for value.

It could also be possible, in a depressing way, that there’s nothing really there—that each of these moments of déjà vu are truly random, and I’ve fabricated a subconscious lattice to hold it all together. Are all these meaningful connections simply so many neurons tied together? Perhaps the only purpose of a potential grand design is to keep my life moving along the exact same track, ensuring that I’m able to competently do all the things I’ve done before.

But even in this case, the smallest flashes point back to my psyche, and it’s hard to imagine that there’s nothing there. These recollections paint a picture of me as someone who wants to know—to master, and to deeply know.

I’ve accepted the role of simple, tiny variations in the pursuit of mastery and experience; they’re part of the process of coming to a complete understanding. Things that are similar in one distinct way to something that I like, I also like, because they contribute to the broader picture. As perception increases, we can appreciate small commonalities on their own merits, even apart from the things they reference. It’s the similarity itself that you love—the similarity that exists only when it serves as a bridge between two things that are anchored to reality.

I’m hoping that all these synchronized flashes of recall will point to something that’s really there, something that I’ve already built, a palace waiting in a dream. At the same time, even if my mind has fabricated this whole story—has created all the little similarities, and even imagined the nonexistent centerpoint between them all—I think it must be valuable. Because these things, even if they’re unreal, propel me forward and posit an image of myself, unified, in the future. It’s good even if it’s a ghost chase.

But oh, my god, I hope there’s something waiting for me there.

And I’ll go crazy when I find it.

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2 Responses to What I am Failing to Remember

  1. Sara Kaiser says:

    so many artistic phrases in here, surprising and creative
    I wonder if this unremembered thing is referring to your underlying artist, your creator in hibernation, soul murmerings

  2. Lauren MacLeod says:

    Wowow a little too close to home lately! I was just thinking about how my memory has been failing me, and I’ve forgotten lots of potential paths. Beautifully explained.

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