Today is February 5th, 2022. Do you remember February 5th, 2021? Do you remember February 5th, 2020? If you do, what do you remember? Why do you remember what you remember? Do you remember February 5th, 2010? Is there any February 5th in any year that you particularly remember?
How do you remember? Do you sit and conjure up a time and then begin picturing it, and hearing from it, and establishing its date? Are you walking down the street and a sound, or you open a door and a scent brings to mind another place, another time and reverie begins? (or desire to block that which was brought to mind?) Do you read your diary and review the source of an entry, see/hear/feel/smell the aspects of that entry all over again? Do you smile? Do you cringe? Do you find you don’t remember at all why you wrote that entry? But do you like it, anyway?
I have a friend, a very good, life-long friend who, I believe, remembers every detail of her life, and every detail of my life whenever we are together or, even something I may have told her once, or something about my life or me that I didn’t share and that didn’t occur when we were with each other, but she learned by a random means. She is just as thorough in her detail about any and every friend she has, no matter how intimate or longstanding; no matter if the friendship is comfortable or not. It is intriguing. She also until fairly recently could report on events of the day anywhere in the world that media touched and shared.
She still remembers, and raises episodes and observations from our lives over the years, and events from other of her friends’ lives as pertinent to our conversation of the moment. And she is present to recently occurred events, and to current events she hears about–but the numbers of events, and the timeliness of her information (which, the timeliness, if spoken of in recall is not so much of import) is greatly reduced. She has placed herself in the background of life, lived and mediated. We talk regularly, and enjoyably. I love her, this friend of mine, and wonder what corners I have turned over the past decades I would not have had we not been friends, sharing lives, thoughts, friends (some), a history worthy of a very thick diary or maybe six.
In fact, how much did we each contribute to the fashioning of who each of us is, and who we are as friends? And it’s not only remembering who, what, why, when, where about one another (good thing! since my remembering is gap-filled), it’s how our presence and our essence informs, actually, seeps into each other purely by sharing space, air, ideas, moods, surprises, dislikes, disagreements, and time.
And so, am I writing here about what one remembers, how much one remembers–and recalls–or about the gift of good friends?
Here is a kind of answer: This morning I woke up thinking about remembering and that led to thoughts about my friend. Then, by happenstance, I was reading an article an hour or so ago Jennifer Croft, who translated a novel by Olga Tokarczuk. Jennifer Croft was talking about the art/act of translating. She spoke of words viz self: “A self is narrative because it must see itself in terms of a life story. It finds those terms in conceptual apparatuses such as language and time. It conceives of the former by way of the latter and expresses the latter by way of the former. Each self’s story contains causes and effects arising from a beginning and leading to an end.”
“A self is intersubjective ….. because it cannot achieve its telos (ultimate end, i.e., purpose) without the collaboration of other selves, …”1
I am also reading a novel by an author who earned his PhD. in Identity and Ethics. The other day, when I first read that about him, I asked myself, ‘what is that? identity and ethics? how does one develop that specific study?’ Well, what do you think? Have we just figured out the answer?
Remember–for yourself and with others. Start with love, and base everyone every thought from there.
A photograph I took on February 5th, 2020.
1Literary Hub, February 1, 2022.