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Perspective: Forgetting is not all bad

Kelly Sikkema

What is that word for that thing on the side of the road that’s got gravel? After eight hours. the word pops up. Shoulder. Did I take Morgen’s fly mask off? I walk to the barn at 10, flick on the light, my mare blinking at the brightness. Yup I took it off.

I retired before I hit sixty because my memory wasn’t up to working with young people. Too many times I couldn’t remember my students’ names—students I knew well.

Despite my inability to remember, I’ve come to realize that forgetting is not all bad. St Paul has said, “One thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”

In “After Great Pain” Andrew Solomon mentions how survivors of terrible trauma find healing in forgetting, “A man I met from Rwanda insisted that one survives by looking forward… A woman who had survived the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia spoke to me of forgetting as the first step toward recovery.”

There is wisdom here in traveling light, in setting down the angers, resentments and sorrows that we pile into our hearts. Forgetting can be a gift.

I have twelve feet of notebooks full of emails I’d kept as writer’s notes, thinking they’d be a good record of my life. But I don’t want to reread all that angst. Nope. I’m not far from cracking those suckers open and dropping those pages on the burn pile.

I’m Katie Andraski and that’s my perspective.

Katie Andraski is an author, blogger, and retired composition teacher at Northern Illinois University. You can read more of her writing on Substack at Katie's Ground.