May 16, 2023

Weddings and funerals bring people together. I’m here for the latter. I’ve seen people I haven’t seen in close to twenty years.

Twenty years. I’m old enough now to have been around long enough ago to say, “It must be, what, twenty years now, since we’ve seen each other?” I’ve forgotten a lot of people. I’m genuinely surprised at how many people remember me. Then too, my parents have been introducing me because some their friends have only heard of me and some don’t even know that they have a son.

It’s just as well, really. Even though I had to be the person I was then to be the person I am today, I’d rather not recall many of those memories. I don’t much like who I remember being back then, some twenty years ago. I don’t know how much people remember about me but it can’t be all that bad if they’re smiling once they recognize me. The fluidity of memories must be an evolutionary survival strategy.

The inherent imperative to survive is a curious thing. Given that we are self-aware, we know that we’re trying to survive. Additionally, we want our lives to have purpose. Religions, science, and art, are only a few things we turn to to help give us a sense of value or worth. The things we remember, and the things we forget, help us, not only to survive, but also to define who we are in aid our search for meaning. I want to think that the two are closely linked.

What we remember about others must be a reference point in our own self-reflection. We need other people to support our own survival. Do we also need them to validate our self-perception? How would ascetics respond to the removal of other people? You can’t be separate from a group that doesn’t exist. Who is ultimately responsible for giving our lives meaning, ourselves or others?


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