I want to ask you all a favor. I want you to remember this. Pay careful attention and remember this experience. I mean the one you are having right now.
I have these very specific memories that are scattered through my life. I have this one memory that has stuck in my mind for years. When I was about 4 or 5, I asked my mother why the gas gauge in the car went up when the car started. Since it was using gas it should go down right? So my mother explained something to me but I know that I misunderstood her because she is not insane and this is what I remember her saying:
"Gasoline is like orange juice. The more you use the more you have."
Now don't get me wrong. This makes absolutely no sense in any way shape or form. But it is one of those experiences I vividly remember.
It took me ten years trying to make sense of this answer before I finally figured that I just heard it or remembered it wrong.
Gasoline is not like orange juice at all. But ever since then orange juice and gasoline have been connected in my mind. And neither Gasoline nor orange juice increases in quantity as you use it.
But what does? The more you use it the more you have.
Credit card debt.
Now it seems to me that these slivers or crystals of memory are hugely important just because they are what I remember.
I mean if something happens to you and you don't remember it and it leaves no physical evidence it is exactly as if it didn't happen at all. There is no difference for you. From your frame of reference the things you do not remember did not happen.
For example, people ask me how did you sleep and I always say I have no idea. I was asleep.
And on the other hand those things you remember for a long time are almost more real. And I'm thinking they have more of an impact.
Lately I have been wondering how I became me and you became you. Like what things happened to you that made you the person that you are and made the person next to you the person that they are.
And it makes intellectual sense that as we grow up the totality of our experience shapes our personality but from the inside, thinking back, it really doesn't feel like that. It feels like these random moments of my life that I remember very vividly have created me. The funny thing is there is no reason why these moments should be preserved in amber while everything else is lost. And this is especially important to me now because I have a baby who is 4 months old. I'd like to help him be happy and confident and loving and all that good stuff but I know that it's those random moments that he remembers that will have the big impact.
It's kind of like John Lennon's saying "Life is what happens while you're making other plans." Like it's that one moment when you don't pick up your child rather than the countless times you do that leaves them with a slight inferiority complex for the rest of their life. Or it's the one night you come home early from work and go star gazing that leads to a lifelong love of astronomy. Meanwhile the hundreds of nights of reading him or her to sleep has no impact. It's the offhand garbled comment about gasoline and orange juice that is repeated 30 years later.
It's what you remember that makes a difference.
Now of course there are dreams and sub-consciousness and yadda yadda yadda but where the heck does that stuff live. How can you measure the impact of stuff that is only in your mind that your mind is not aware of? I mean who's gonna keep track of that if you don't? If you have a dream and you don't remember it what is that? Did it happen? Did it ever exist? Yes? No?
I mean what does it mean to have something happen?
How the heck did I get here? What the heck am I saying? Who wrote this? Who are you people?
These questions are not important.
The important question is am I going to remember this in a week or a year? Are you? If none of us remember this moment in a year did it really happen?
Let's all promise to remember this. Please everyone stand up and raise your right hand and repeat after me. "I promise to remember this moment for as long as I live."
Think it'll work?
Aw forget it.
January 21th, 2002