Remembering is bleeding out the memory. It’s like reopening a sutured wound and letting it bleed profusely. But if memories can kill, I’d be dying every day.
I have an unusually retentive memory. It’s not a photographic memory, and I don’t have the ability to remember every detail that I see, like someone with that kind of memory does. But I can easily recall a certain experience, like a conversation with someone or a scene from a movie. Or how I stumbled on my way to the stage in a rehearsal for Recognition Day to get my “Kab Scout of the Year” Award in third grade, or how I performed in pairing capital letters with small letters in my admission to kindergarten.
It is fascinating to remember a lovely moment vividly. But having this kind of memory sometimes feels like a curse because random memories keep flashing even if I don’t intend them to. A fragment of a memory usually flashes when I see an object that is associated with it. I see a pack of Kitkat and I recall shoplifting a bar in a grocery store when I was 10; I see my sunglasses and I remember swimming in the pink-sand beach of Calintaan Island two years ago.
I have learned that beautiful and ugly memories are both destructive in their own ways.
The difficult part about having this kind of memory is that I can’t control which memories will be omitted or retained. It’s like a video recorder with a broken control button. The irony is that when I’m deliberately memorizing things, I’m terrible at it. That’s why I never excelled in school: I seldom get the right terminology or formula.
Unlike other people whose identity is based on their job or the things that they do daily, my identity is mostly based on memories. It’s not something that I consciously decided on; it just happened that I have this retentive memory. And it is so unfair to be judged as someone who can’t move on when I can’t tell my mind to stop holding on to the past. I can’t seem to let go of my earlier life.
Besides extreme impatience, the trait that I most dislike about myself is my lack of forgiveness. The adage “Forgive and forget” will never be applied to me; I can’t forgive people who have wronged or insulted me because I can’t forget the things they did. I can’t easily afford to abandon resentment even if I want to. Planning to get even is my only way of coping with these resurfacing feelings of anger and hate. Of course, I know that revenge is ultimately a hollow pursuit.
The more things that you remember, the more things that you know. And the more you know, the more you become unhappy. That’s why ignorance is bliss. I wonder if stupidity is the key to a happy life.
I have two huge keloidal scars on my right wrist below the thumb that resulted from an accident when I was in fifth grade. It was the night of Good Friday in 2002, when I made a bad decision to jump over our neighbor’s fence in the course of trying to find a well-concealed spot while playing hide–and-seek. I knew that the timing of my jump was terrible, and it was too late before I realized that my right hand was left in midair, landing on one of the pointed grilles.
My wrist was pierced horizontally, and I was basically being barbecued while fighting in the life-or-death war zone of taguan pong. I was bleeding badly but no one noticed because it was dark. I just told my friends that I had to go home because my parents were calling me.
The wounds were near the pulse but I didn’t bleed out. Apparently, I wasn’t afraid of dying because I didn’t have a concept of death yet at that time. I was more afraid of the superstition that any wounds one sustains before Easter Sunday will never heal because Jesus is dead. However, I was unable to use my right hand for two weeks. Luckily it was already summer vacation, or I wouldn’t have been able to do any writing in school.
Looking at and touching those scars bring nostalgic memories of my colorful childhood. It was a time of genuine innocence and happiness.
Unfortunately, I don’t have to look at my other scars to remind me that the past is real.
John Thomas Miranda, 23, is a freelance writer on some days and an amateur poker player on other days. He also composes acoustic songs to “exorcise those persistent memories.”
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