Longtime readers know I occasionally get fixated on bellybutton-gazing-type pointless ponderings, and then feel the need to share. This weekend was all about the human capacity to consume mass amounts of information, and then fuggetaboutit.
In college I had this professor, who was absolutely phenomenal, in spite of the fact that her classes never actually covered what they were meant to. She spoke several languages, and said she had forgotten several as well. She spent a year in the Amazon doing research for her doctorate, and learned to speak the local dialect, but not long after her study was complete forgot most of what she learned. It’s not uncommon, tons of people grow up and forget a language they knew quite well as a child. Or perhaps you took French all four years of high school, and then in college, and spent six months in Paris for a study abroad program, and now you can barely order foie gras (gross). It’s amazing, really, to think a person could spend the time to learn a language fluently, only to have it slip away from disuse.
I have two degrees in Anthropology, and spent countless hours studying, writing, and cramming my head with theories. Maybe, and this is a big maybe, I retained 15% of what I learned. Yes, I remember the basic principals and theories and whatnot, but no longer the specifics of who said what, when and in what context. That’s pretty pathetic, especially considering the amount I have left to pay off my student loans, and years of my life I dedicated to my studies. On the other hand, fifteen percent is a hell of a lot more than I remember from high school, and if I had to put a percentage on the information I retained from those years, it would probably be .00000001%. So maybe I got my money’s worth in college after all.
Anyway, I’m more interested in the things we forget aside from what we learned in school. It’s one thing to fill your head with information for a test, vomit it out, and then forget about it when it no longer serves a purpose. It’s an entirely different thing when we forget something physical, like pain, which we fortunately have the ability to push out of our minds. Just ask anyone with multiple tattoos or piercings, or better yet, a mother with multiple kids.
To me, the most bizarre form of forgetting is when it’s personal, like names of people and places and restaurants we once knew. Sometimes we forget things we shouldn’t, and as a result end up making the same mistake repeatedly. I’m sure everyone knows a person that swears off dating assholes, and then conveniently forgets all about it when the next douche bag comes along.
Our capacity to forget about heartbreak can be both good and bad. Yes, it’s harmful when a person consistently falls for the wrong person, each time neglecting (often purposefully) to remember how painful it is when the relationship goes south. However, forgetting heartbreak is probably more useful than not. It allows us to get over that bad relationship, or maybe the good one that we thought would never end but did, and move on with life. And how could one possibly bear to start anew with another person if they couldn’t let go of their previous breakup?
Okay, end bellybutton time. I have errands to run, and of course, forgot where I put my keys. Happy Monday y’all.