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Monday, April 23, 2012

Different Train Station; Same Baggage

"Get rid of the past. Let it drop on the ground like a bag of rocks." or something to that effect. That's what I heard tonight on the tv show I used to like so much, "The Big C". It's about a woman who goes a little cuckoo at first after learning she has an incurable version of cancer. She does all these crazy things and then tries to not be so crazy.

I started watching because in the beginning; it mimicked so much of what I had felt when all this illness started in my body, or at least when we first figured something wasn't quite right. I remember laying in the hospital bed after six weeks and being told they were going to transfer me to UCLA in Santa Monica and saying something like, "Really? It's that serious?" as though the previous six weeks hadn't clued me into that. I just couldn't fathom that anything I had happening to me physically could be that serious.

But it was/is that serious. A lot of people die from this so quickly they never find out what's wrong with them until the coroner tells their family.

So, tonight, this character starts talking about dropping the past and letting it go and it reminded me of a recent report on NPR about a new procedure they had come up with so that people could forget horrible bits of their lives (rape, abuse, etc. - although, I knew already that if the abuse is bad enough, you don't need no stinkin' laser to help you forget. Your gorgeous brain will do the honors for you.).

Anyway, I though what an awful idea. Sure, it might help you forget some atrocities you saw in Kabul or most of junior high, but didn't it also erase some of the very things that made us who we are at the moment, some years later? Didn't it also put us at risk to have it happen again? Like, if you can't remember the event, can you not remember the person who did whatever to you? And then, what happens when you turn the corner and the dude is there in your face? You don't recognize him so you don't run. But he recognizes you. And you ain't carrying around no sign, lady, saying you paid to ditch these memories...

And what about that book you were going to write about what happened to you, turning yourself into the material of a fictional family? You're not going to write that because you don't remember it now. So what happened, Mr. George Bailey, when you're not there to write that book that some women need to read so they can recognize themselves on the page and finally leave the men who are using their words, fingers, and fists to reshape their insides and outsides? What then?

Sure, I think these scientists have their hearts in the right place. They want to rid us of the pains of these experiences. But when I burned my hand in a fire, I learned not to do it again. Take that away, that memory, and I might do it over and over again, and yet wonder where the first scar came from.

Dropping the baggage of my past, eternally erasing my past to make an exceptionally clean mind... these things I do only if to erase myself, not physically, but mentally. And really, what's the point if I'm truly not here?

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1 comment:

  1. I'm still in favor of the technology, which may or may not surprise you, because it is not so much the erasing of one's memory as it is the dulling of it like most memories that we have. The pain of a victim be it of a violent sexual crime or something like PTSD is that the memories of those events are so transcribed into their psyche, that when they remember it's like it just happened, or is happening.

    Take ol'Topher. I have the most fantastic memory. It is a blessing and a curse. I remember events and details from far earlier than most can remember which is great when they are good and horrible when they are traumatic. When I remember a painful event, I can still vividly feel the pain as if it had just happened and so my strategy has been to transform rather than trying to forget. I've thought in the way that you have described here. I've thought what if those events change me from who I've become and then I think what does it matter, I've forgotten and I'm happy. But you are from the South, and the South wear those badges in plain sight. I've actually thought about Alzheimer's in the positive sense in this way. I think, what a wonderful world to leave each day anew and fresh to learn things that I once had categorized into the pile of tedium. I know, I know. It's awful for the family. I was all torn up inside when my grandmother no longer knew who I was and even thinking about it now leaves me on the verge of crying but again (as I breath low shallow breaths to settle myself), I transformed that event into something positive where my grandmother was able to unburden the hardships of her life. What good are memories to the departed I suppose, they are only comforting to the ones who have to carry on. Well, I think I said enough about that don't you? Hope all is well!