I HAVE THIS recurrent dream where I’m searching vainly for my car in a parking lot. I can’t remember where it is and, if I can’t remember, it’s not there.
Our memory connects us to our past. When memory fails, our past vanishes. It is as if it is a can with a hole in it. We keep pouring water into it, having new experiences. But down at the bottom of the can, where the hole is, the water continues to seep out.
Perhaps the philosopher wasn’t so crazy after all when he asked: if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to see it, does it really fall? My question is: if one’s memory of an event evaporates, did the event really take place? The event, after all, a relic of the past, only exists in one’s memory. Once the memory of it ceases to exist, it is gone.
Loss of memory is surely a catastrophic occurrence. It is nothing less than our personal history. When it starts to go, we teeter at the edge of oblivion. I have come to believe that this dream I keep having, searching in vain for my missing car, is a metaphor that represents my dematerializing memory. The dream is a manifestation of my distress at the prospect of losing a part of my humanity.
Don’t worry. I’m not in the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease. I’m just getting old, is all, and I’m reacting in my typically histrionic manner. I’m afraid I’m going to forget Yolanda.
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