You’ve Got to Know When To Hold ‘Em; Know When To Fold ‘Em

7 playing cards

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My weekly newspaper column for your reading pleasure (I hope):

 

“You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all…Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing.” ~ Luis Buñuel

 

            Memory is precious but unreliable. And while I think Bunuel has a valid point in saying that “Life without memory is no life at all”, I believe that sometimes it is those things that we forget that help us live coherently, with reason, feeling, and the ability to take action.

            We are inundated with many images on television, in newspapers, magazines, and on the internet that are not

so this is christmas

so this is christmas (Photo credit: mumucs)

necessarily things we want to bank in our memories. A favourite Christmas song of mine, “So This is Christmas” by John Lennon has been forever altered for me as it is being used in an advertisement accompanied by images of children in great and desperate need. Though the words do lend themselves to the message, the message is one of despair. I know that it is supposed to make me want to send money to help, but instead every time I hear the opening notes, I turn the channel. I am not heartless—I have “adopted” kids from other nations that need help and I give a monthly donation to the Red Cross, but I do not need to be reminded to be “good” in a way that makes me feel “bad”.

            One of the definitions of forgetting is to “put behind you”. And I think that having this ability is a very useful tool to deal with life when it gets just that little bit too demanding. We can only take on so much, then our cup overfloweth, and we become overwhelmed.

I was given a piece of paper with these words at the top: “Drying Out the Responsibility Sponge”. The person who gave it to me was not sure of its origins, but she remembered that I had said that I am like a sponge, taking in the things that go on around me detrimentally—as if the problems of the world were my problems when in actuality I was not dealing with those things that were within my power because I was waterlogged with the enormity of situations out of my control.

            A Google search revealed that the words are from “The Woman’s Book of Courage: Meditations for Empowerment and Peace of Mind” by Sue Patton Thoele. They target women, but I do not think that women are the only ones who take on mantles of responsibility that are too heavy. The ending of the essay says it all: “We need to be patient and gentle with ourselves as we dry our sponges (of responsibility), for the belief that we are responsible for everything is woven deeply into the fabric of our lives.” We need to put behind us all those things that are separating us from living a life with worthwhile memories.

            The cold factual definition of memory is simple—according to the Encarta Dictionary it is “the ability of the mind or of a person or organism to retain learned information and knowledge of past events and experiences and to retrieve that information and knowledge.” To me the kernel of knowledge that should be taken from this definition is that we should learn from our memories and use that data to forge forward and not dive into the depths of despair from past indiscretions, grief, revenge, and heartache.

            Many of us (me) suffer gladly from revisionist history—we remember the good things, and try to put the other stuff behind us. I believe we should learn from our errors and failures, feel our grief, seek fair retribution, but then “just let it go”.  (Believe me, I know how hard that is).

            The simple statement that “life is not fair” is true sometimes, but admit it, sometimes life is fair. And those are the times we should grasp and hold onto with all our strength.

            Session is over—okay Kenny take over—“You got to know when to hold ‘em; know when to fold ‘em; know when to walk away; know when to run…”

P.S. I had my husband read this and he said it was very thoughtful, so if you don’t like it you can blame him, but remember he has to eat the food I prepare so I think he measures his words.