I’ve always had a bad or, at least, average memory. I think that’s one of the reasons I never do as well in academia as I should, considering my intelligence level. This is something I’ve come to terms with. GPA isn’t everything, it’s actually barely anything. But recently, I’ve found that it’s gotten even worse.
I’m used to forgetting facts and precise wording. I can’t memorize a paragraph no matter the pressures and I struggle to remember the date. All of those are normal. Fine.
But now I can’t remember where I’m going or what I’ve done all day. I can’t remember if I’ve taken my medicine or not. I can’t remember that I’m hungry or that I need to shower.
But it’s not just that I can’t remember things, it’s like my mind is working too slowly to catch up to itself to remember that I’ve even forgotten something. I think the last week has really shown me the extent of it. I’m at home and I can’t drive. I can’t go places alone really and I can’t remember how to get anywhere anyways.
I was trying to navigate my sister and myself to a couple places recently. She drives me everywhere now since my privileges have been revoked until cleared by a doctor. I use google maps and I still can’t keep track of what’s happening. I look at the phone and back up to the windshield but instantly forget what I just read or looked at. I can’t keep up with the changes the program makes. I used to be the navigationally talented daughter. No GPS needed and I could switch from highway to highway to get across the city. With ease. Now, I can’t remember the lay out, or the intersections, or even what street I’m on. It’s terrifying.
I wake up at night and can’t figure out if I’m awake or not, because my memory feels so real in both, yet information is lost so fast that reality blurs into dreams. I forget to wear my wrist braces or use my inhaler and wonder why I feel so bad the next day. I don’t even know what day it is right now, or when the last time I posted was.
I’ve forgotten more doctor appointments in the last month and a half than I ever have before. I’m scared. I don’t think my memory is really fading, I think it’s just buried by everything else right now. The pain, the exhaustion, the coughing bouts, the pressures in my head at all times. Worry, determination, courage. But then how am I supposed to function in day to day life? I’ve recently caught myself staring at the ceiling for a half an hour and not remembering when it started.
I’m still coming to terms with these new problems, but at least I know I won’t forget what’s happening inside me. I can’t forget myself. I can’t forget what I love to do. Write. I’ve been skipping between a screenplay, a script, a novella, and a novel series for the last couple of months. I’m happy to find that ideas haven’t stopped coming. Sure, I may forget more of them now than before, but at least they’re still there. And yeah, sometimes getting my fingers to the keyboard or focusing enough to know which keys to press can be harder, but at least I’m holding on to what I believe to be one of the essentials of my life.
It all feels a bit like those dramatic tv series, where a character has turned evil, but we all know that the real character is still inside them. That we just have to remind him of who he was. I sometimes feel like I’ve become a shadow of who I used to be. Because I can’t remember things or because I can’t do things I used to be able to do. But, looking at it now, I can see me even better than before. I am not my ability to drive or run a mile. I am not defined by my navigational skills or my ability to do calculus in my head. I am abrupt. I am kind (if not nice). I am filled with words to put to paper and I am (and forever will be) devoted to my family. And even if I do forget those aspects of myself for a day or a week, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Those things are a part of me, not a memory or a resume bullet. They are who I am and what I do. They are the one thing that can’t be dragged out of me by the inability to name them.
Realizing that is freeing. Because I am so much more than my failures or flaws. I am flaws and dreams and hopes and reality and….ME. Even if I forget how to write or have to spend days filtering through words and punctuation to get a sentence out, I won’t lose myself. Writing is my passion, but living is my goal. It’s been hard to differentiate the two or to respect their differences, but I feel like I understand now. That I am more than what I can do or can’t do. I can’t remember if I ate, but I still remain loyal to my puppy. I can’t remember what I have to do today, but I still cherish the sound of my sister’s voice. I am kind and forgetful. I am a writer even without words. I am me even if I don’t remember who that is at every moment.
I find that comforting beyond words. Do you? I believe we all need to remember that defining yourself by a skill or insight is dangerous. That you aren’t your success, but rather the desire to succeed. That you aren’t your passion, but rather a conduit.
Now that may seem sad or fatalistic, but think about it. Fully. What makes you love yourself or have others respect you? At the end of the day it’s not your work, or your books, or your art, or your beauty. It’s everything else. It’s the way you smile, or help a stranger, or stand strong in a moment of doubt. You are more than your abilities, and you always will be. Because forgetting yourself….is near impossible. There are exceptions, but I believe that most people understand and accept the fact that what they make or do is separated from who they are. They overlap and affect each other, but they are different. And I haven’t forgotten that, and that lifts a shadow from my eyes. I can see what matters, and that isn’t google maps.