The joys of forgetfulness

Philip Larkin hit the target on the damage that remembering can cause

Remembering is over-rated, while the peace of forgetfulness is too often seen as cause for despair. Our task, in Writers Group this week, is to consider the topic of ‘forgetfulness.’ But to my mind, the stimulus has said everything there is to say about the topic.

Except for my own personal revelations, of course. I sat myself down and wrote a ‘musing.’ In it I fictionalised a writer, not unlike myself, who is troubled by recriminations, often just before dropping off to sleep. I thought, why doesn’t my protagonist lose consciousness with a smile on his face, rather than a gasp of despair, a groan of sadness?

So, for my despairing writer, I invented a strategy, an ambition. A tangible, colourful book, just for himself, which he might peruse before turning the bedside light off, which might elicit a remembering smile, before waving him off into dreamland.

So far, so much verisimilitude. But I hadn’t thought of creating a personal book, a little diary for remembering the joys, which I could use to block out the encroaching darkness that refuses to be forgotten. My fictionalised character has done just that! I felt jealous immediately. We did create a personal, single copy book to consolidate our memories of our big adventure in Portugal, and that is a delight. As I think about this now, I realise that I could bring these joys into a more accessible, personal space. Why don’t I have a little shelf, to house a tangible collection of a variety of personal joys, just there by my head, to be bemused with, before the bedside light is switched off.

Better than a last-minute bout of screen time, really.

2 responses to “The joys of forgetfulness”

  1. To be fair part of the Joy is remembering a memory that you had forgotten. Funny the connections with Larkin, his girlfriend had a house in Haydon Bridge and my dear late friend Dave was at Hull university when he was librarian there


  2. Thanks Larry. I appreciate your reflections. Loved the Larkin poem. MRIs after auto accident last August showed that I have physiology that often foretells dementia. That knowledge causes a bit of anxiety when issues of memory arise. I hope the knowledge of the physiology I mentioned is one of the first things I permanently forget.


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