Sunday, July 29


I've realized over the past few months that my memory doesn't work like what seems like the vast majority in the world. Moments for me are intense and powerful... but they fade within seconds or hours. At the end of a day I sometimes can't remember what happened that morning, and when I wake up in the morning, the day before feels like it was weeks or even months past.

And when I can remember moments, they are often stripped of their emotions. Walking through my memories is like walking through a wax museum or someone else's scrapbook. I see myself sitting at a table, having a conversation, but it doesn't arouse any feelings inside. Reliving moments of abuse is just as emotionless as shared memories with people I love.

Life has taught me that most people, when they experience something powerful, naturally hold on to that experience and it colors their lives for days or weeks or years after it happens. You experience something incredibly good, or incredibly bad, and it stays with you. It's the source of lasting love and infatuation and bliss on the one side, family feuds and grudges and PTSD on the other. Life each morning, for many people, is built on the memories of each day in the past.

I, on the other hand, wake up and have an almost clean slate each morning. If I fell in love yesterday, I might not remember today. If I was in a car crash that destroyed my car, I'll likely spend an hour looking for my keys. If I stayed up late into the night pouring out my soul to someone, I probably won't remember anything that was said the next morning... on either side. I might not remember the person I spoke to at all.

Once I was on campus at BYU and someone came up to me, excited to see me. "David!!! It's so good to see you!" Ummmmm... I don't recognize you... "Good to see you too!" We spoke for a few minutes. "Sorry, but I don't remember your name." "It's Jordan." We speak for another few minutes. "Sorry Jordan... but I don't remember how I know you." "We were roommates at Brownstone." "...I don't remember anything about you... what do you do? What are you studying?" "I play trombone." "I remember once meeting someone who played trombone. That must have been you."


After he rode away I realized the extent of the issue. We were Facebook friends, but it felt like I was reading through someone else's messages instead of my own. I had lived at Brownstone only a few months prior, and he told me that we had spoken many times and had deep conversations about life. But when I walked through my memories of my apartment, there was no one else there. No one to talk to, no memories of people...

Nothing at all except furniture. Outside on the steps was sitting someone else whose name I can't remember, but my apartment had no one. And to this day I remember nothing about Jordan other than the fact we conversed on campus and I didn't know him at all.

That's a common thing in my life.

Ginkgo, ketosis, and a dozen other dietary interventions haven't really changed that reality. I'm not sure if it's a byproduct of autism (which at its core is a difference in information processing and storage), or something else entirely... but it's part of me.

It means that I'll never be able to hold a grudge. Or become jaded. It means that it only takes some time for me to heal from any emotional wound, and I'm almost impervious to scars.

On the other hand, it means that I forget about the people that are important to me. I forget my family and friends. I forget the experiences I want to hold on to. I forget love and joy and peace within a day or two.

I tried to keep notes on people and experiences. To write them down. Even (G)MG was a way for me to try to keep things present in my mind. I'd put off allowing myself to feel until I had written about it... but then I'd forget what I had even written within hours of pushing publish. The note files with people's favorite colors and foods and interests and passions go forgotten on my phone until I find them someday and wonder who wrote them.

A few months ago, or sometime in the past, this realization broke me down. I wondered if I would ever be able to hold on to real relationships in the long run. Forgetting almost everything about someone is... unforgivable to most people. Forgetting the powerful memories, the experiences, the emotions... relationships are built on foundations of shared experiences. Who would be willing to build up from nothing almost every single day?

It made me want to not develop relationships with people, because I knew that I would likely forget them and then disappear from their lives without even realizing it. Which is one of the the worst things you can do to someone, right?

As I was talking with God one day, I saw at least some meaning in this circumstance for me. It's made me a better person, and I wake up almost every day believing the world is an incredible place. I try to stay optimistic. I try to be present with people when I'm in the moment. And I can absorb a whole lot of garbage / venting / anger / emotion from other people without it dragging me down.

I don't know if I'll be able to fix it. Looking back, I think it's something that has always been a part of my life, and it's possible that it'll be part of my mortality. But I'm going to focus on what I can do, and take full advantage of the pros. Make memories and have positive experiences every single day. Use up the emotional energy I get each morning to make the world a better place. Forget quickly about the pain that life brings. Focus on God and remembering Him. And do what I can for the people I do remember.

To anyone reading this... I'm sorry for forgetting you. If I could, I would remember everything about you, and it would color our every experience. But even if I don't remember your name, your face, or anything you've ever said... I hope you can still find a way to believe me when I say I care.