Marshall Bowers

Conjurer of code. Devourer of art. Pursuer of æsthetics.

Is Forgetting the Human Experience?

Sunday, September 25, 2022
463 words
3 minute read

The things I want to remember are rarely so apparent in the moment. It isn't until later, sometimes decades later, that I realize the importance of the small things that I want to hold on to forever.

For as long as I can remember my mother has been intent on making sure we get family photos whenever we get together as a family. I'll admit that for a while I found this annoying; why does every holiday need to be documented with a posed photo?

However, in the past few years I've found myself able to relate to the act of taking these photos more and more. After all, how many of us will remember these gatherings in twenty years without the photos to look back in?

The other night I was laying awake in bed, unable to fall asleep. As I laid there, my mind drifted back to my family's old apartment in Kunming. I imagined myself going back and finding it just the way we left it.

I reach into my pocket and pull out the key. I insert it into the security door and turn it once, twice, three times to undo all the deadbolts. The fourth turn draws back the latch, and I lean my weight into the door to allow the latch to retract without getting stuck.

The door swings open and I'm greeted by the familiar sight of the hardwood floors. The afternoon sun beaming in through the large bay window fills the apartment with a warm glow. I leave my shoes at the door as I step inside.

At this point I must have fallen asleep, as I don't really remember much else of my time in the apartment. All I know is that somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I can go through that metal, teal-colored door and exist in that space once again.

But as soon as I wake up, the details are hazy and indiscernible.

I have to wonder if this forgetting is a quintessential component of the human experience? Am I asking too much in wanting to remember these small—perhaps insignificant—moments from my past, or does everyone else suffer from forgetting moments like these?

I worry that these feelings will only grow as I age, with more things to remember and a brain that is increasingly unable to remember them all. The part that stings the most is that some of these moments have likely already been lost to time, forever.

Perhaps I am a hoarder. Not of physical possessions that would earn me a spot on A&E's show, but of memories. I'm loathe to forget all but the most painful of memories that I would freely and specifically relinquish to time's gaping maw.