I Am Now A Member of AA
As I careen forward into the decades, knocking over years like stacks of falling dominos, it occurs to me almost daily (hourly?) that the axiom “Everything old is new again” has more than a ring of truth to it, it has the deafening peal of a city-wide bell toll reserved for a royal funeral in London. Peter Allen and Carol Bayer Sayer said it best in the song for The Boy From Oz and All That Jazz:
“Don’t throw the past away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again”
As a perpetual hoarder, the concept of discarded flotsam has always been foreign to my nature. As age and downsizing and right-living practices have come to dictate more practical ways of managing my often hectic life, one thing I have not dispensed with is my memories……….just my memory of them.
Even before the advent of book on my iPad, I have found myself in possession of books; back then purchased, flyleaves read, pages perused, brought home to the shelves and when pulled down on a rainy afternoon to begin a new literary stroll, only then….and only after a chapter or ten into them, discover that I have, indeed, already consumed this particular tale. Receipts be damned, I would shuffle back to Crown Books and ashamedly admit that “oooops, I already read this…” and exchange it for not one but several more potential reads, hoping against hope that I had not already been down their typeset paths as well.
It used to bother me.
Was I that shallow and obtuse that I simply chose “forgettable” authors? Or was there something deeper happening here? Was I in an already advancing state of mental decline (catastrophic thinking always ready to spring to the fore)? I always opted to blame it on my frenetic lifestyle and my over-scheduled existence.
Now with the advent of Amazon and online book purchases I have a new social anxiety to contend with. I can’t simply un-buy a digital book when I’m sixty pages in and suddenly recognizing characters and plot twists that I couldn’t browse ahead online, pre-purchase.
Now I own these cursed books forever, again. They reside in the Cloud, bought and paid for with my cloudy memory and my “One Click” purchase button.
But recently I have discovered that this fog of forgetfulness is leaking into other media and not just the written word. Maybe this is why I can watch reruns of Designing Women and Seinfeld and, even while reciting complete scenes aloud, find them endlessly amusing…..still…..again.
Is this a benefit of age or a sign of it?
My husband often comments, when he is subjected to one of my family’s many verbally orgiastic reunions, that never in his life has he seen a group of people who tell the same stories, in exactly the same way, for decade after decade, and still find them uproariously funny and endlessly amusing….to us, alone. I have thought about this a lot. Are we cementing our collective history so that we will not lose it as we pass through it, and beyond, or are we simply simplistic and boring creatures devoid of the ability to create new and engaging stories in the present tense? I like to believe that we pause and repeat these anecdotally amusing instances in order to implant them in the next generations that are so rapidly filling in the time behind and in front of us. We are giving them their foundational blocks upon which the laughter of our lives was built in the hopes that they will make their own ecstatic tapestries. But still, ‘tis a puzzlement.
It does cause me pause though and wonder if I had my entire life to live over again, with all the seminal events presented in exactly the same order and consequence, would my life re-imagined still surprise me? Would I react as I did then, devoid of the filters that age and experience have provided? Would the wonder still be as marvelous? Would the tragedy still take my breath away? Would I question my motives and my desires the same way I did on the first ride around the carrousel?
Would I enjoy my own rerun?
Time will be the tale-teller here, and I will never know the difference.