Matters of the Mind

I have a very bad memory.

I don’t mean that I forget my keys all the time, or miss following up on phone calls or ordinary chores like that. I can keep track of important dates and events. My life may not always be perfectly in order, but I am typically on top of things.

But I have trouble remembering. My high school years are nearly gone from my mind. College, only a year or two behind me now, already starts to fade away.

For quite some time I kept a studious, dedicated, and most of all boring journal of my day to day life. It wasn’t a study in philosophy or sophistication – it was merely a catalogue to help me recall those events that I knew would grow… dim.

My poor memory is, perhaps, the biggest change I would make about myself. That loss of memory, that gaping abyss of thought, is perhaps my greatest fear.

Hmm. This seems to be an awfully dismal post. I may have wandered a bit from my track, but I thought it best to set the stage.

You see, I’ve recently discovered an upside to the leaking sieve that is my mind. Well… not so much discovered, as recognized.

I am a reader. My first great love was fiction. Books, stories, and all they entailed – throughout my youth I partook of them, and read far, far more than was healthy for a boy my age.

I have a tendency, when no new material has caught my attention, to revisit previous works. And I have realized one of the reasons I am able to do so, able to actually enjoy a work for the second, third, or fourth time… is my poor memory.

It isn’t that I forget every last element of a story. Little hints may remain at the outskirts of my mind, vague patterns I may see developing in the tale.

But after a few years – and several hundred more stories crammed into my noggin – I find that I can still experience the same thrill of surprise, excitement, and entertainment as on my first read-through.

I’ve been discovering this while reading back through Tad William’s Otherland, one of my favorite works. It is one of those epic tales that actually convinced me that sci-fi fiction could be, well… serious writing, and not just hokey space-drama.

I was almost afraid to read back through it, since I had recently fallen out of sorts with a lot of writers I had been a fan of when I was younger – Piers Anthony, David Eddings, Ed Greenwood. I had recently realized that much of what I had read when I was younger was… absolute trash.

Fortunately, Tad Williams is the man, and his series remained good writing in more than distant memories. And, as this slowly meandering post is meant to tell you, I discovered that not recalling the details of the plot let me experience the work anew, which was a thrilling discovery all on its own.

Of course, the downside of faulty memory reared its ugly head as well, when I discovered I had lost my copy of the fourth volume, and had no idea whatsover what I had done with it.

But always look on the bright side, as my dear old mom used to say!

…I think.

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