Memories – A Curse or Blessing?
Happy is he who forgets that which cannot be changed. (Glücklich ist, wer vergisst, was nicht mehr zu ändern ist.)
Johann Strauß II, Die Fledermaus
(Sept 21 – World Alzheimer’s Day)
What about you? Your memories a curse or a blessing?
Two books and a film on memories that you will not regret indulging in.
Khaled Hosseini explores memory as a curse and blessing in his beautifully written book, And the Mountains Echoed
The book is divided into chapters dedicated to different characters whose lives intertwine with Abdullah and Pari, a brother and sister, who are separated as young children. Their journey begins with their father telling them a bed-time story about Baba Ayub, a poor, hard-working farmer, who is forced to give away his favorite child to satisfy the demands of a div threatening his family and fellow villagers. The man greatly regrets his decision and after a short time sets off to confront the beast and save his daughter. To his surprise, the man finds his daughter happy and prospering. This time, for her sake, the man is forced to leave his daughter for good. However, the anguish this causes the man is so unbearable that the div takes pity on him and gives him a magic potion to erase all memory of his daughter. The ability to forget proves more merciful than the ability to remember.
Quote from the book: “Abdullah would find himself on a spot where Pari had once stood, her absence like a smell pushing up from the earth beneath his feet, and his legs would buckle, and his heart would collapse in on itself, and he would long for a swig of the magic potion the div had given Baba Ayub so he too could forget. But there was no forgetting Pari.”
In another highly recommendable book, Still Alice, Lisa Genova tells the frightening story of a highly intelligent, successful Harvard professor who must come to terms with the reality that she has Alzheimer’s.
Quote from the book: “She wished she had cancer instead. She’d trade Alzheimer’s for cancer in a heartbeat. She felt ashamed for wishing this, and it was certainly a pointless bargaining, but she permitted the fantasy anyway. With cancer, she’d have something that she could fight. There was surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. There was the chance that she could win.”
In his not-to-be-missed film, Amour (Love in English – don’t let the foreign original title and no frill basic noun English version turn you away, this is a must see film), Austrian director and screenwriter, Michael Haneke, takes an up close and very personal look at an aging (fictive) couple, Anne and George, who are forced to confront the reality of growing old and frail when Anne suffers a stroke and George insists on caring for her. The two become confined and isolated in their Parisian apartment where they dwell amongst the shadows of their common memories and struggle with the mental and physical bonds imposed on them by the past, present and future. While paging through a family album, Anne remarks with tragic matter-of-factness, “C’est beau la vie.” (Life is beautiful – also the title of a famous French song which this guy has nailed in his version of Fabien Cahen’s song even though he needs a better camera – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEeyCdRWB70). And here the lyrics and translation of C’est beau la vie.
BTW I can’t promise the film won’t make you teary eyed – even you supposed tough guys out there.
“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
Information on World Alzheimer’s Day: http://www.alzinfo.org/08/alzheimers/world-alzheimers-day and the World Alzheimer’s Report.
Complete quote from Strauss‘ Die Fledermaus (translation of German by KC Blau just for you):
|Flieht auch manche Illusion,
die dir einst dein Herz erfreut,
gibt der Wein dir Tröstung schon
Glücklich ist, wer vergisst,
was doch nicht zu ändern ist.
|Flee too many an illusion,
that once gladdened your heart,
may the wine give you comfort yet
in the power to forget!
Happy is he, who can forget,
What cannot be changed
Did you know taking pictures might impair your memory? So live life, don’t just document it.
Read more here: Meyer, Ashley, “C is for Cognition”, Psychology Today, 3 March 2014
Don’t waste time – make more good memories.
Mon amour, mon étincelle
Juste un jour pour être heureux (C’est beau la vie – Cahen)