For as long as I can remember, I’ve had trouble remembering. Many of my friends will joke about how they can’t remember why they entered a room, or what they had for dinner yesterday as a commentary on aging. And though I am only five months from 50, I have to confess that this has been my truth for quite some time. One of my co-workers from my former life in the corporate world affectionately nicknamed me Dory, after the character in Finding Nemo, voiced by Ellen Degeneres. That came after only a few months of our partnership, since her desk was right next to the copy room, and I was frequently sighing as I exited to return to my desk – hoping for a clue why I had gone there.
I once may have believed that it was due to an easily distracted mind in the chaos of a corporation. Having been liberated from office life for nearly a year, I don’t see anyone often enough to live up to that nickname, but that doesn’t mean my memory has grown stronger. In fact, these days if I visit with a friend who inquires about how I am spending my time, I may have to refer to my calendar as a guide to share… ‘oh, yeah – my grandniece stayed with me for a week’, or ‘I went to the mountains with the boys in July’. Truly, the best way to share where I’ve been and what I’ve really been up to lately is to refer them to this blog. This is where I have been placing my thoughts, my discoveries, and well… my memories. Actually, looking at the beginning of this paragraph, I realize that if I were still in that world, if someone asked me what I’d been up to, the conversation would have led to how everyone around me was doing, having considered the responsibility and wellness of others to have been more important than my own. Having the heart of a caregiver in an executive office means that you are holding space for the enormous stress of others, where fluctuations in stock somehow reflects on your worthiness to lead. Have I mentioned how completely I do NOT miss that world? My stomach flips at the thought of such an atmosphere. Gratefully, those memories, too, are fleeting. They are at my reach, only when I need a reminder of where I have been and where I may choose to venture forward.
I’ve often wondered when and where this memory shortage began, and I have wondered if it was that moment when self-doubt set in at the age of 9. I wrote about that event in my post called ‘My Favorite Tomboy’, when my friend’s father accused me of lying to him. I was so dumbfounded by the accusation of a grown up, that I must have questioned if I had actually done so… even though it makes no sense at all. In recent years I have decided to let go of identifying a cause, and simply accept it. This is what I have chosen to believe: The Universe has gifted me with a deficient memory to enable me to live more fully in the NOW! Think about it. Eckhart Tolle urges us to discover The Power of NOW, suggesting that we “Realize deeply that the present moment is all [we] ever have.” When your memory is limited, there really isn’t much choice but to be present.
At times, this can feel like a curse – especially when you are in conversation and wish to add value to the discussion. But it can also feel like a blessing – as having a poor memory makes you a great secret keeper. I’m sure that would look amazing on my resume, right? I call it Swiss Cheese memory, because I may recall having a conversation with someone, but I may not remember the outcome… some of the details seem to have fallen through the holes. Another benefit to this condition is that it can make you extremely efficient. I was known to complete a task within minutes of assignment, because I feared that I might fail to do so if anything got in the way of that intention. It can be a tedious skill set should you work for someone who changes his mind with some frequency, though.
In my current world, where more time is spent with those I love and cherish, I am witness to memory loss suffered by my parents and other elders in our beloved community. I’m sure that this is not uncommon as we near or surpass our eighth decade upon the Earth. My parents seem to lose things easily and may not recall the specific instructions from a doctor visit, and if you have an hour with a friend of ours, you may hear the same story about her youth more than once. I always listen to each tale-retold, smile and nod, and say, “I know!” I have to admit that I have been caught telling a story of something I have recently experienced to a friend who was actually with me at the time. This probably happens more often than I realize – I just have really compassionate friends. Oy… this does not bode well for my future!
My favorite tomboy (my lifelong friend) has shared with me in recent years that one of the obstacles that has held her hostage from leaping toward the life she truly desires involves leaving the job she has been doing since she was 19. She doesn’t love her job, but she does it well and it has delivered comfort and prosperity for which she is grateful. Recognizing that her memory is not what it once was, she fears having to learn laws and regulations for states that would be new to her. She is convinced that she may not be able to learn new things… and so her dreams are left waiting to be realized. Truth be told, I had to leave my job at Dairy Queen when I was 16 because I couldn’t remember how to make each item on the menu. Each time was like the first time (this is true for movies and television I may have seen before, as well). So, I feel her pain and share her concern. I’m hoping that if I have to go back to work in a ‘traditional’ workplace someday, someone will want to hire me for my obvious positive energy and extraordinary inner light…. somehow valuing my ability to not dwell on the past. Ha!
In my last post, Transformation Dawning, I wrote about a trip to a local spring with my grandniece, and how I found myself wondering why I had allowed decades to pass since my last visit. Well, yesterday my friend and I made another trip. This time we were able to get into Kelly Park, which offers a lazy-river feel to the public swimming area. You may notice that I am writing this post on a Tuesday, which means that my friend and I escaped the routine of our individual daily lives on a Monday. A MONDAY! This is not something one does when trapped in the monotony of a corporate work week. On vacation, maybe… but never on a work day. My soul-daughter (a blossoming medium) tells me that I am learning to let go of the structure I once held as law… that I must have specific structure in my life to get things done. She says, intuitively, that my future prosperity will not fall into such an oppressive mold. I’d love to know what that future holds, how an income will be generated to support the lifestyle to which my cat has been accustomed. However, if I am to glory in the gift of my poor memory, unable to wallow in the regrets of the past, I should be reminded not to drown in the worries of the future.
For now, the only plans I make (unless a reservation is required) shall be somewhat spontaneous and with an aim for joy. I did not need the books and materials about becoming an end of life doula to inform me that there is no guarantee of future days over which to worry. Each day, in this new existence, is met with my commitment to hold space for myself. I am madly in love with this life, right now… not ‘someday, when’. My funny memory just brought to mind the turtle that we saw near the spring yesterday. I meant to look up the symbolism (and of course had forgotten until now), and this is what I’ve just learned: Turtle symbolizes our peaceful walk on the earth, representing the path we take on the journey through life. The way of the turtle anchors our personal unfolding in a slow, more grounded series of steps and longer cycles of transformation. So… that’s all I need to know about the future. I am firmly planting each footfall upon this sacred ground, allowing transformation to come when it comes. There is nothing more to do, than to simply be. That seems pretty easy to remember, don’t you think?