Friday, January 2, 2009


What will we forget about the year that was? Which memories will be so well-worn that they fall into disrepair or so common that they cease to trigger the lush inhabited glow of the mind? Surely it is only the banal that we forget. The ten days in October that I actually brushed my teeth. The way I check the oil every time I fill the tank with gas. The time day I cut the grass when it really didn't need it. What I had for supper on September 14th. These must be the things that we forget. Unimportant and frivolous things. We forget the things that DON'T keep us up all night. After all to hold those things in our minds seems pointless and completely encumbering since we really want to make room for the important memories. Those are the one's we want to remember.

I want to remember the time the lady stopped to get a picture taken with the X Mennonite Youth Pastor. I want to remember the good marks I received at the end of the semester or the recommendation that I received after my orientation to Teaching course. I want to remember the way peaches taste ripened on the tree in Kelowna. I want to remember the pride at seeing my son get his learner's licence and watch my boy demonstrate some real work ethic. I want to remember times with friends and family – good conversations, funny stories, and good food. I want to remember the way people talk about my Char when does her job. I want to remember waiting out a thundershower at Milk River so that we could say another day at the camp site.

I have a little thing that I do from time to time. Every so often I will stop at a particularly poignant part of an experience and tell myself that I want to remember just how this moment feels. I give myself a goal of when I want to recall this particular event and feeling. I usually and mostly unintentionally picked moments without any extraordinary quality but one's that nonetheless are full of the essence of life. I will invariably, for instance, take the first warm spring day walking with my dog and ask myself to remember this moment when the first snow falls. And invariably I do not recall the moment – the prompt fails to trigger any recollection. There are these pieces of my life that I have worked to remember that get lost in the shuffle of life. Others will not quit poking their heads inconveniently over and over again so that even some of the more enjoyable memories become tiresome – and yet unforgettable.

And there are things I would like to forget. The way guilt rises every time I think about time no spent with my family. The way friendships of have changed with the life course I have chosen. The way anger gets the best of me when things seem out of control. The way my shape prevented me from participating in a special gift for my family. I want to forget the memories of a more distant past that still haunt me and make me wonder about my value and worth. I want to forget how I have failed. How I've wallowed in the gluttony common to these days. I want to forget my arrogance. But these things I can't seem to forget neatly enough to have them slip away.

These things that haunt me – these ghosts (friendly and otherwise) – they live with me. Nothing is as it once was it seems yet it all seems at once present and alive. Never mind if any of it is true anymore, the memories are nonetheless real and bear the real consequences that shape me whether I want them to or not. I should say I have precious little control over what I recall. But the few holds I have on this faculty will not be loosened easily. And I know that there would be much to tell about a life well lived in the things that I'll forget from now to then. Much to tell of pain and sorrow and regret and shame as well. In the end it could be that what we forget about the year that was might be kinder memory than they one will recall again.


Natasha said...

Beautiful post Dale.

Naomi said...

Dale, you have got me thinking. This time of year is usually one with new years resolutions, but I like where you have gone, to the memories of the year past. Hmmmmm, I will need to think about this one for a little bit.

Gord H. said...

Another great read!