What has been going on with me lately? I can’t tell if it is the oppressive heat or some kind of chemical strike within my brain. I am used to being lethargic at this point in my life but the kind of forgetfulness that has made itself a permanent fixture in my life- is driving me crazy. If I become any more forgetful I am afraid that the repetitive nightmare that I always had as a child where I would show up at school in the nude will come true. I have started taking various memory enhancement supplements but so far they do not seem to be working because tonight I went to the market to buy cereal and I forgot the milk.
In Dante’s classic work the The Divine Comedy, the stream of Lethe flows to the centre of the earth from its surface, but its headwaters are located in the Earthly Paradise found at the top of the mountain of Purgatory. In high school my English Teacher always used to tell me that if I did not stop smoking grass that I was going to fall into the stream of Lethe and end up in the center of the earth where all the sinners go. At that time I had no idea that Lethe was the Greek term for forgetfulness. Nor did I realize that I would later forget that in Samuel Beckett’s radio play Embers, the main character Henry describes conversing with his dead wife: “that’s what hell will be like, small chat to the babbling of Lethe about the good old days when we ate cereal without the milk and wished we were dead.”
I often forget my keys, where I parked my car and that I am a married man- but lately I have been forgetting more obvious things. I will travel to the post office to mail a letter and come home with a frozen yogurt and the letter still in my pocket. I will start reading a book and immediately forget what it was all about. There are even certain days that I forget what my wife looks like. I am yet to forget the more permanent fixtures in my life like my address and my cat’s name- but I am wondering if I should start considering some kind of medical care to rule out any auspicious happenings within my mind. Normally, I would be in a state of red flag hypochondriac alert, but my forgetfulness has been with me for as long as I can remember which is not long at all.
I often wonder if my high school English Teacher jinxed me when she threatened me to an eternity in the underworld for enjoying the youthful pleasures of being high on the mountain. Sometimes I even wonder if I have not already forgotten this Earthly Paradise and been condemned to an eternity in an Inferno where the sinner is doomed to forget one thing after the next. All kinds of plausible scenarios have percolated around in my brain. Whatever the case may be- tomorrow morning I have to wake up and eat my flax seed cereal without the milk. If I remember.