Saturday, 23 January 2021


I've been mulling thoughts about memory and meaning for several weeks.

The question I have been asking myself is would our present lives have the same meaning if we had no memory of our past. 

If I believe that I am all that I have experienced, my place and circumstance of birth, my family and their histories, my gender, health and education, are these things imprinted deep into my unconscious? 

The people I have met and the multitude of things I have thought and done, are these inscribed on a plaque hidden somewhere in the depth of my being? 

Do I need to consciously remember them or does that matter? 

"We dwell on intrusive memories of the past or fret about what may or may not happen in the future," says Buddhist scholar B. Alan Wallace. And then Mark Twain's more direct statement makes me smile in recognition: "I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened."

I recently saw a poignant video of a former ballerina suffering with Alzheimer's, as Swan Lake music reawakened  her memories of being on stage.  In the video, Gonzalez Saldana seems to feel the music as she sways and moves in her wheelchair. As the music reaches the crescendo, so do her movements. 

Besides being touched by this little-known dancer's grace, I saw, once again, how we allow so little time to practice stillness. We are always doing. Gonzalez Saldana, living with this disease, could feel the music deep in her soul with no clutter in its pathway. 

I fear dementia, with its abnormal brain changes. 
The dismissal of my cognitive self. 
The erasing of the me as I am now.
And, the erasing of my memories.

For these reasons, The Thief of Broken Toys, by Tim Lebbon, distressed me deeply.

Quoting from this short novel's back cover we read that "when a father loses his son and his wife leaves him, he cannot tear himself away from the small fishing village where the boy's memories reside. They're all he has left." He wanders the cliffs carrying broken toys that he had promised his son that he would fix, though he never did. These broken toys keep his son, Toby, close.

And then he meets the thief of broken toys.

When I first bought this book at a used book sale, I was surprised to see that the author was "an original talent on the horror scene." The story seemed to talk of a father's love and his tragic loss.

The loss was far greater than the father or myself could have imagined.

The thief in the story magically repairs the broken toys, one by one. He then asks Toby's father to replace him in this important job, as the thief's time was coming to an end. 

With the father's refusal to do so, a curse befell him.

His memory was erased. 
With that, his love for Toby was erased.
He had no memory of Toby at all.

This is the reason that Lebbon's horror genre includes this slim and powerful book.

I cannot imagine forgetting about Brian. Not remembering my beautiful daughters and their families.
These people fill my heart with love, and how my heart would shrink without my thoughts of them.

Tell me everything I don't remember.

Songwriter Jason Mraz says
"I can't walk through life backwards
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home."

              a card created by Sat-Sung Kalman Hassid many, many, many years ago

No comments:

Post a Comment