You know that feeling you get when your mind falls idle, then suddenly it’s overthrown by an onslaught of frustrating memories that just make you angry and which you have no idea why your brain’s even bothering to retain because they’re so damned pointless and depressing anyway?
No? Just me then..? Right.
Worse still is that the force behind this exodus of pleasant thoughts, followed swiftly by the unsettling influx of longing and regret, sometimes likes to stick around for a bit, making itself comfortable, settling in within the folds of my memory membrane, often digging up other undesirable events in memory form, perhaps in an effort to quell the need for companionship – do memories need other memories to be happy and if so, can an inherently odious memory become a joyful memory simply by reaching out to another memory?
I don’t know and I’m willing to wager, neither do you.
That’s not the point though. The point is, occurring most frequently while chopping vegetables of an evening, my brain, in an act totally out of my conscious control, starts running through every major embarrassment, every significant failure, every shameful rejection and in fact, given time, I’m quite certain that it would recollect for me every bloody negative moment in my life to date.
Couple of reasons I can see for this phenomenon. Firstly, ten or so years ago I made a concerted effort to ensure that my memory returned fully from the brain damage that almost killed it, and perhaps I pushed too hard. Secondly, and let’s be fair, this life, my life, comprises a terrible lot of shitty moments which, as we continue, are only set to become more abundant. Therefore I suppose, when the brain sitting atop the body of the man below has few conscious thoughts to occupy it and with a memory bank brimming with excruciatingly lurid recollections, well, there’ll be no prizes for guessing how that brain chooses to fill its downtime.
From stupid things I’ve said to idiotic actions I’ve taken, from erroneous problem solving to absent minded mistakes, from awkward introductions to heartbreaking farewells, from ill advised endeavours to personally blundered efforts, from regrettable moments to forgettable occasions; from the gorgeous girl who mocked my ingratiation, to every other pretty lady who has ever spurned me…
Believe me, of the latter there is no dearth.
I effectively missed my late teens. Those years where I might have been gallivanting around the countryside, boozed up and without a care in the world, I was immersed in brain damaged solitude and focused only on executing my cognitively adequate return to society. Problem was when that time finally came, it was too late. All the good memories had already been made and generally speaking, I was not a part of them. People had selected their life partners and already made their getaways.
Missed opportunities notwithstanding I dug in and tried going it alone.
This earned me a mere spattering of good times and a veritable buttload of shitty memories.
Few hours down the track, once the vegetables have been chopped, cooked, prepared and eaten, if I’m not careful they’ll get me in bed, too. That’s the worst thing. That’s worse than 108 of the aforementioned rejections – because that’s what it usually is only in this instance I’m not physically present to face up to the situation and the regret evoked by the memory of rejection is actually a lot more painful than the rejection itself. The regret of what I didn’t do, the regret of what I should have done; what I would have done had the universe hence circumstances had not been against me…
You know that feeling?
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Bill Sheet
Photography by Tom Malt