My mother often comments about Bill Maher’s saying of how if he had a choice he would remove religion from himself like a tumor.
The reference is about how we can find ourselves with an idea in our heads that intellectually we know is absurd and yet it has great emotional weight in direct contravention to our own intellectual set of ethics. I have a similar situation about memory. There are two uncontrollable elements here, one is memory itself, the other is emotion and how they relate to birthdays, holidays, and cultural imperatives relating to proving one way or another that you care for someone. This is always in my opinion just an excuse to get you to serve the system in some way, usually by spending money. A natural outgrowth of emotional advertising.
It’s March 24th and I forgot my dads birthday sort of. Now that has a lot of connotations to it, a lot of assumptions are made about what that says about me and my relationship to him.
I try to make it clear every day that I love the man and that I’m grateful for everything he does for me. I do the same for my mother though we have less in common, and communicate completely differently so I don’t think I make myself clear enough. I think on some level she’s a little afraid to try and understand me for fear that she’ll find me wanting.
But anyway… About the birthday. It needs to be noted that I don’t have any money and my dad knows this because he pays all my bills. I feel guilty but intellectually I know I shouldn’t. I didn’t choose to be broke. Its not like I’m a pill head or blow my money on horses. I can’t find a way to make any in the first place. I went to sleep at seven, he spoke to me twice and didn’t say anything and I didn’t say anything because I didn’t know what the date was because I don’t have a job, I don’t have any reason, to align myself with the calendar, beyond the arbitrary social obligations.
The calendar was invented to keep workers organized during the birth of agriculture and its current purpose is not very much different. It’s just a way to keep the ants walking in line and I have no eggs to carry, no leaf cuttings to move from chamber to chamber so timing doesn’t apply to me really and thus I forget. Sometimes I don’t even know what month it is. Side story: once my dad caught me checking my watch to determine what moth it was and laughed a lot. Now it’s an inside joke, I’ll look at his wrist and say “Hmm, March” anytime I’m being oblivious. Anyway… Like Bill Maher I would like to remove the belief that because I forgot something I don’t care about it, that because I’m not conforming with the calendar and making the prescribed observances I am somehow dishonoring someone.
If our memory responded to what we care about we’d have effectively perfect memories. In truth our memory is ordered by the dictates of our animal primate brain, not our neo cortex. The only way we have conscious control over our brain is study and exposure.
This is a problem because while the calendar itself is unimportant to me, people obviously are. My mom and dad being the binary star of the “people who’re worth a damn to brandon” system.
My solution is technology. I’ve got myself a Google calendar now and it’ll email me before their birthdays in the future, several times. Still, I wish I could get clear of the whole “you didn’t pay someone, and you forgot something therefor you don’t love them” thing. Maybe one day when technology gives me direct access to my brain I’ll be able to fix that.