As a child, I wasn’t beaten or relentlessly berated and made to feel inadequate but maybe I should have been. Perhaps such jarring experiences would have triggered whatever it is in the human brain that creates indelible recollections of the arc of one’s life from childhood to adulthood. Sadly, whatever it is that triggers the crescent that connects on both ends to reality, went missing.

Instead of a flood of linear memories of my early life into young adulthood, over the years my brain assembled a collection of disjointed snapshots from a faulty Instamatic camera with a scratched and smudged lens. I remember a few specific events with surprising clarity. But those flash-backs and many others, even those proximate in time to one another, seem random and disconnected. Collectively, they do not tell a story. Rather, they are a little like much of my writing; inchoate scenes indiscriminately stitched together to form an unintelligible hallucination.

This obsession with my memories, or the lack thereof, seems to crop up more and more of late. I suppose there are reasons for that, but I’m not equipped to analyze the genesis of this obsession.

The saying goes, you play the hand you’re dealt. And so, I think I should take the implicit admonition of that truism to heart. With both my memory and my writing, I might simply fill in the blanks with tales that make the most sense of the available shards. The character(s) I’ve been working to write, people who at their core are “good men who do bad things,” can create their own story arcs.  And I can fashion a full-on memory of my life from childhood to geezerhood by creating memories to fill in the blanks.

I’m a little uneasy with that, though. The creation of story lines to connect the dots between scenes is apt to be innocuous. But creating memories purely from the building blocks of fiction could have serious unintended consequences. I’ll have to mull on this a little longer. Like so many things, and maybe like me, this requires analysis.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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