My memory is so mysterious and unreliable, shifty, that I have to set up landmarks in my own history to tie it down, but stable points are hard to find, the births of my children, the day Mary and I got married, jobs I’ve had. If I try to reference events from my childhood it is almost impossible to be accurate as to which events occurred when and the proper order. I remember after high school I wanted to make sure I remembered things as they happened, but then life would swirl up and I would find momentous events had unfolded without any thought on my part, relationships started and matured so fast that I could not be sure of reasons or timing. I wanted to talk with people about how they perceived the events, interview and discuss the implications, but people mostly just want to live and not think too much. I got nowhere with this idea. I kept journals inconsistently and so vaguely that even though the events in them happened to me, all they do is muddy my memories. I was not clear on anything then, now with a little distance and experience, I see that people were acting in a much more comprehensible way, when before I would invariably be confused and frustrated trying to navigate through my relationships.
I still am not very clear on how to interact with my world. People still confuse me, but I am more resigned to this and take a more long term view. I know that when I don’t understand someone’s behavior toward me or around me, eventually I will either be enlightened or it will become unimportant. I also know to confront what I perceive as bad behavior, diplomatically at first, but I know that just letting it go often leads to worst problems later on.
The other thing I see from looking at my journals and memory and the way other people remember the same events is that my feelings change about everything. From day to day, hour to hour, I move from sunlight into shadow and back like standing in a field on a windy day with clouds. I have little sense of continuity when I look closely at how my life pieces together, or even how any given week leads to another. It is as if I were a series of slightly related people trying to glue themselves into a larger more meaningful mega-person, but it is a shoddy process involving justifying inconsistencies and containing many unexplained contradictions. I know this process is not original with me. Every human being goes through a similar process, though maybe in a more stable, seamless way. The road I travel is full of patches and weird turns and continues out to the horizon in the same way. Next week I am sure I will feel differently about this, or maybe in the next few minutes, but at some point I will be back here wondering how I came to this strange place again and why it seems so familiar.