“No, it will be all right. You may think that the memories themselves vanish every time there’s a disappearance, but that’s not true. They’re just floating in a pool where the sunlight never reaches. All you have to do is plunge your hand in and you’re bound to find something. Something to bring back into the light. You have to try. I can’t just stand by watching as your soul withers."
Change is a constant. Our (human) ability to adapt to change seemingly has no limits. Wearing a mask at first felt weird, but after a few times it became normal, routine even.
Sometimes things change slowly enough that we barely notice. The world is getting warmer bit by bit. Soon it will be too warm to support (human) habitation on the majority of our planet. No doubt, we will adapt in some way that this too will feel normal in time.
Sometimes things change quickly. In a blink. A sudden death that we didn't see coming. The world feels totally upside down. Nothing will be the same. And still we adapt and find a new state of homeostasis.
The Memory Police is about change but also about things remaining normal. It's about loss and the adaptation to loss that normalizes everything in our existence. It's about things disappearing and not being missed because there is no memory of them appearing in the first place.
When I was in my mid-twenties I suffered a fairly serious concussion after a bike accident. I didn't remember my name for 3 days afterwards. The one clear memory from that time was me asking if I was going to be like this forever. I was afraid of what I was losing.
This is the very bottom of the mind’s swamp, the place where memories come to rest.
My memory never fully recovered from that accident. I have trouble with medium term memories. Things long ago I can recall and I know what happened today and maybe even yesterday, but nothing from earlier in the week. Unless I have landmarks to remind me.
And still I adapted and have thrived with these gaps in my mind. Maybe my behaviour has changed, but I haven't noticed. I've achieved a form of homeostasis.
Will we survive as a species 100 years from now? We may, but our societies and civilizations won't look anything like they do now. Things we take for granted today will be impossible in 100 years. Things we've only imagined in our wildest dreams...may seem trivial.
I only have one memory of my mother's mother. We were visiting long after she's succumbed to dementia. She seemed to recognize us but could not place us in the context of time. We were important to her but there were no anchors in her mind to guide her to who we were. There were holes where neurons used to be to make contextual connections. Sense from meaning.
I was sure that any memories that remained inside him would be very much alive, so different from my own, which were few in number and very pale—sodden flower petals sinking into the waves or the ashes at the bottom of the incinerator.
We all disappear at some point. Sometimes it's bit by bit and sometimes all at once. And those left behind may miss us, or might not remember us at all.
Definitely recommend checking out this beautiful novel which was recommended to me by Todd Smith. It's a good one to read under a tree or in a garden.