The value of forgetting

I am amazed by some of the things that people (including myself) cannot remember at all. Someone told me that during my senior year I would occasionally come out in the hallway of 4th Floor Chase Stone and play “Oh Susanna” on a harmonica to make people laugh. I had totally forgotten that until someone mentioned it 30 years later, but then I clearly remembered. I clearly remember some things other people said or did which one would think would be unforgettable and yet when I mention it to them they have no memory. I suppose there is some protective function to forgetting/blocking/selectively remembering, something to protect us from what is painful, or perhaps just the fact that we need room in our minds to focus upon other things and so it we remembered everything with clarity then we would not have proper focus.

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Thanks for the kind words, Fenton. I have kind of lost all hope regarding life and the future. Every day that I wake up is more and more painful in terms of memories, regrets, and futures which are gone forever. It is a terrible thing to say but turning 62 I find little reason to turn 72. I did find it interesting to read Woody Allen’s biography. Allen said that dialog and jokes just come into his head. I don’t think I could manage that ever day. Some of the funny things that I say are simply in the context of these Facebook posts and then too not everyone laughs. Perhaps, Fenton, you are amused because we were “comrades in arms” during our youth and also because you are compassionate and perhaps sense the emptiness which underlies some of these blog ramblings. Human relationships depend on shared memories and experiences. St. John’s just happens to be an unusual school were EVERYONE experiences the same readings, classes and seminars for four years and the same today as in the 1960s and for this reason only we who are age 60 plus have something in common with younger alumni. One of the funniest scenes I remember from a Woody Allen movie is rather morbid but is sadly typical of the male mind (or at least my male mind.) Woody sees a beautiful young woman and asks her if she would like to go out on Friday night. She says “Oh, Friday I am committing suicide.” So Woody says, “Well, what about Thursday then?” Woody’s humor portrays males as desperate to have sex with almost anyone and willing to do anything however ruthless if in any way they can get what they want with no empathy for the other person as an individual with feelings, needs, ambitions, dreams, or a sense of personal dignity.

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