What is a “legitimate memory”? Does it have to be factual? Is the emotional memory as valid and important as anything else? If you polled the people effected by an event, would any two have the same memory of it? I think that highly unlikely. Everyone has his own perspective. There must be thousands of different stories about the holocaust of WWII or about Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City. What do we gain from a memory? What is achieved by illustrating and sharing it? With whom should we share our memories? If you enjoy engaging in someone else’s memories, does that make you somewhat voyeuristic? Does the sharing of memories help us to become more emotionally intelligent, more empathic? Does that make it Art?
We didn’t really talk about these questions in class last night, but Steve asked me sleepily as he came to bed in the wee hours this morning, “So, why do you want to write memoirs?” He is supportive, but he is much more interested in research and synthesis. Also, he doesn’t remember much. Names, anniversaries, directions and details get lost in a blur. He will remember a holistic sense of something, an emotional reading. I go the other way; I’m heavy on detail and can’t articulate an emotion. Perhaps I am trying to teach myself to become more compassionate and empathic. I typically repress a lot of emotion. I am afraid of getting in trouble for acting out my passions. Especially anger. I completely deny anger. I like to think this makes me a more pleasant person, but it probably just makes me more neurotic.
Theater, music, literature, art: they’re about communicating emotion, right? They make us feel human. We get connected to others and to ourselves through them. They are marks of culture and civilization. They help us explore a kind of intelligence and understanding about the human condition. The emotions in art can be immediate and raw or they can be seeds from the past grown into a living reality. My son tells me that our brains also make memories when we dream and thereby prepare us to have some experience to draw on in a new situation.
So I’m working on remembering repressed emotions, pulling up experiences from the past in detail. And I’m also trying to be present in the moment, in now. Going back and forth is kind of a test of sanity. One of the things Steve said he liked about me when we started dating was that I was “sane”. There’s a short cut to sanity, which is to remain shallow and functional. Then there’s the long route, which is to attempt to feel in depth and yet refrain from wallowing. I want to take that long and winding road and share what I find on the journey. I hope that results in a learning experience for me and a few others.