Image description: A man in a power wheelchair faces two closed doors.
My mind has an odd habit. One of many I imagine. For a mind that is quick to notice the best in others, that is quick to acknowledge when my own work feels right, that is quick to see new horizons, it’s not the best at dealing with memory. Oh, it stores everything well. Like many people each memory will be sorted into one of two filing cabinets in one of two rooms. In one room, in one cabinet I store all my happy memories, I am lucky, this cabinet is already jam packed. In the other room, in the other cabinet I store all my unhappy memories. I am fairly typical when I say that the drawers are full to bursting here too. Other memories of fear and anxiety are stuffed between the cabinet and the wall.
So, two cabinets in two rooms.
Now when my mind decides, for some random reason, to pull a memory out for review. It has a choice to make. A knowing choice because my mind has to open the door to the room, go over to the cabinet and … now up to here, there’s still choice, there’s still a turning back, … pulls out a memory. For some reason my mind always goes to the unhappy memory room. I’ll be going along having a wonderfully uneventful day, doing wonderfully ordinary stuff and WHACK!! SPLAT!! I’m his with the memory of standing with a group of boys at sports day watching high jumping. We were at the age where spitting was an art. Some guys could wad up spit and shoot it out of their mouth with a velocity that seems scientifically impossible. A slow developer to the manly arts, I hadn’t practiced, like I should have realized the others had, in private. I wadded up a hunk of spit, and pursed my lips like I was kissing space and expelled it. I looked quickly to see where it landed. I couldn’t. Because to see it I had to look down, at my shirt, where it hung like a frothy dead thing. I curl inside at the memory. But my mind picks that, or one of thousands, to insert into my day.
But, then, yesterday, that didn’t happen. I was getting ready to do something that my boss had asked for, I was finishing one task and readying my mind for the new one, then in popped a memory. I remembered a boy, who was a boy when I was a boy. He was one of the really popular kids at school. While he doesn’t stand out in my mind as a tremendously kind kid, he certainly wasn’t one of the bullies. Kindness isn’t ‘not bullying’ of course, and I understood that even back then. But, then, one day, out of the blue, he did an act of amazing kindness. Astonishingly kind. When I thanked him, he had this quizzical look on his face like he didn’t understand what I was talking about. Then I tried to explain why what he did was kind and to to do I had to explain what was usual – and since the usual was so awful, I started to cry. I was now embarrassing myself. I pulled myself together and said, quickly, ‘so thanks.’ He, now embarrassed, simply said, ‘no problem.’
He was a popular kid, well liked, smart. My life got marginally better after that awkward moment. It was like he used his influence in subtle ways to discourage outright meanness in my direction. It wasn’t noticeable to anyone but me, but it was noticed by me.
Then, he was gone.
And I was back doing what I was meant to be doing. I felt better, stronger and motivated to be more actively kind. I’m not sure why my mind went into the other room, the files in that drawer must have been dusty, but I’m glad it did. I hope it visits that room more often, I don’t want any memory, in that room, to grow dim.