Rember not to forget Forgetting

                  For now, at least, there can be no question of forgetting, or even of forgiveness. But if it is too soon to move toward either, surely it is not too early to ask the question of whether peace will ever be possible without eventually considering both. Even the work of mourning, essential as it is, must end if life is to go on.

–        David Rieff, Harper’s Magazine Aug2011

The day before yesterday 3650 days ago [give or take] was horrible, no contest. I remember the psychology class ended early, disquiet infecting the room. I walked down to the waterfront and saw what looked like the signs of a fire, a big column of smoke rising into perfect blue. Then, if I remember correctly, I tried calling my loved ones and stood in line for so long a time. Finally, I found myself walking home.

The point is that I don’t think that I am actually remembering what happened. I remember what, within a few days or weeks, became my own standardized narrative of what happened on that day in September. In other words: I’m beginning to forget, I’ve already forgotten many details. I’ve certainly not never forgotten.

For those who lost their dear&near, yes, I understand that they will want to never forget, as long as they live at least. They are justified in never forgetting, even if they do to a degree, just the way I have. But for everybody else, for those not struck in the heart, stop making other people’s grief an excuse for broad-siding resentment.

A decade after the fact, the fact is that little to nothing has been learnt from that day. Similarly bad things followed that did not concentrate tragedy as much but had just as bad if not worse outcomes, for the sake of not forgetting: iraq, kathrina, Afghanistan, guantanmo, the great depression pt.II [including staggering unemployment & homelessnes, while WS gets wrist-slapped]. If the planes had to crash into southern manahatta, island of many hills, it’s a shame it wasn’t wallstreet, is the sad truth that is not supposed to be spoken/written.

The word, the two words, that went out the same day: never forget.  Perhaps because it is a culture that has so perfected the art of forgetting that a rejoinder against it was called for. And the ethical injunction, religiously sanctioned, widely touted claims: forgive but never forget. And now, ten years on, a deluge of remembrance [the vast tearfall of the memorial] and not so much as a scintilla of forgiveness. Civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo can attest to the absence of it without being placed under physical duress.

Never forget. That’s impossible. It’s unhealthy to begin with, something of the past must fade away to make room for the present and then, after a while, the future. Memory can only inform if it be something like an ocean or a lake, not a surging tidal wave. Then again, perhaps people would rather remember that day, when everything seemed horrifically clear rather than the muddling-through that followed.

Never forget. How? Not possible, not healthy. You have to begin to forget to start to forgive. You live on, new things happen all the time, you start to forget. You can’t NEVER not FORGET. You get old, you begin forgetting without even wanting to do so. You die and suddenly you are the one who starts being forgotten and thereby the events which you intended to never forget and which you did or did not tell other people to not ever forget either: “Your Grandma, god bless her soul, she could go on and on about them towers downtown, them that done fell, those…what’s-its-name? Anyway, I just miss her so bad, that lovely voice of hers, all that lady’s heart, even them strange old stories from back in the days.”  


LOVE lives by giving and forgiving.  Self lives by getting and forgetting. – Sri Sathya Sai Baba



About tmabona

writer, reader [bolano, DW, bellow, deLillo], runner, badmintoneer
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