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I’m sitting with someone I hope to do business with. We’re discussing films and I'm referencing that film, you know, the one about the… it’s a cowboy film but a comedy and it stars…he’s like funny and…God he is so famous and….

Soul destroying? Not quite yet. But you’re starting to sweat. The man you’re sitting with is younger then you. Much younger. Does he think you’re losing it? You aren’t of course. Are you?

The man’s eyes have glazed over. You reassure yourself, he probably won’t even remember the movie anyway. He’s undoubtedly thinking exactly that right now. Is he checking his phone?

Frantically you run through the alphabet. You’re clutching. Is there a G in it? Sure, sure, that sounds good. Suddenly the name is within reach. It’s just there, and then… poof it is gone.

By then the conversation has moved on…. Relief? Not really. Because now all you can think is maybe you are losing it.

The beginning of the end?

The infuriating thing is, if I can just allow myself to forget about it, the name comes back, suddenly from nowhere. James Garner! Of course, damn it, how could I forget his name?

And that’s just it. I haven’t forgotten the name, James Garner. And Maverick. Are you kidding? I was crazy for it. And I saw him once shopping at Ralph’s and everyone says he was the nicest guy in the world even though he had terrible back trouble and was in constant pain. And then there was that really cute series where he lived in a trailer with his old Dad. And it was called….

Damn it! Just stop.

Here’s my take for what it’s worth. I think the problem isn’t really forgetting; the problem is accessing the information. The files are just so stuffed through with knowledge that the little guy in the file room has only partially digitalized the files and it requires him kicking through a lot of dusty folders.

But the information is there. Just give him time. If I could just stop putting through those ever more desperate orders, cut him a break, forget it, he’ll get back to me.

There is an art to forgetting. And the older I get, the more important and yet difficult it is for me to learn it. My mother who was incredibly sharp until the last three months of her 91 years continued to test herself, constantly forcing herself to call up that name she couldn’t quite access. I hope she enjoyed the process and I especially hope she enjoyed the moment when she remembered that illusive little sucker. But how many lunches did I have to sit through, while with glazed, stunned fish eyes she shuffled through the alphabet trying to access the name. It seemed a bit torturous.

Let’s face it, there are a heck of a lot of things you have to forget as you get older. Some of them really sad losses. Waffles with loads of whipped cream. Floaty summer dresses – you know the one’s with baby-doll sleeves. Being the front singer in a rock and roll band. Bench-pressing enough weight to catch the envy of those snotty body builders who resent you daring to take up a bench at the gym. My husband and I used to dream of doing the Paris/Peking on our motorcycle. Getting piles would be only the half of it.

All sad losses. Sad forgets.

But there are good losses. Take for example old grudges, old family arguments, old resentments. All the “you never” and “I always”. Not being the parent’s favourite. Or the brother who never lifted a finger when Mom got Alzheimer’s. And, damn him then inherited more of her money.

The hell with movie stars names. Wouldn’t those be great things to forget? All those slights. Lost jobs. Lost years. The intense of pain of real losses by death. That would be really wonderful to obliterate too.

Of course the answer is so simple. And so hard to practice. Because the damn little guy in charge of your files seems to have gotten around to digitalizing those resentment files. Oh yeah. Sure, those he finds ever so easy to access.

The answer of course is to forget it.

While I’m sitting around in sweat pants, running over old grudges and embarrassments and watching old Quincy shows, I know I should get off my ass, turn off the TV and fill my mind with new reactions and memories.

Do something life enhancing, eh? Excuses like I can’t leave Quincy when he is so justifiably angry. And anyway it’s almost time to start dinner and I didn’t sleep all that well last night…. Maybe tomorrow.

The trick is to forget it. Forget what you forgot at that meeting. Move on. Most likely everyone else has. All of which takes a lot of energy. But then so does trying to remember James Garner’s name and “The Rockford Files,” after the conversation is long over.

Anyway I’m pretty sure that that is the answer…. Now if only I can remember it.

TURNING POINTS from Crowd-Writing

a book by Shelley Katz

Out Now

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