Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Passing Moment

A small thing: walking to school this morning, I was practicing reading Korean, and I couldn't remember whether ㄱ meant N or G--and I used to know this, and know it rather confidently, as recently as last night even. This shocked me. This small forgetting seemed a prelude for a a much larger forgetting. I will, I realized, someday forget how to read Korean. One day, the things that make up the cloth against which the my days are woven will be--nothing. I will be left with scraps, pieces of torn up and tattered text: what did my room look like? I will wonder. How did I feel when I woke up? Who were my friends?

I cast my memory back to high school and middle school, to elementary school and preschool, and the longer in time my memory reaches, my more blurry the shape that it grabs, the fewer details can I sift from the muddy wreckage of my thought. I am still shocked when I try to remember the names of my friends from Middle school--even though I am friends with all of them on Facebook--and I can't. One day, will I forget them all? Will I forget myself?

But even the best memories will be baffled by death.

And then, walking up the hill to my school, I tried to think of what was happening right then in front of me, because surly I couldn't forget that. It was raining, I was seeing the rain, the gathering of rainclouds against the hills, the school looming in front of me, the tired parade of students walking up the hill in the rain--the play of light against my eyes: and then I thought to my self, what I was feeling; and I thought, well, I can forget this, too. even this is not the moment itself. I take these sensations and process them, so that when they are cast against the screen of my memory, they are already old, they are already past. So I turned my attention to something more basic, the sensation of being alive. But I could not even find that, and hold it, and know that it was now, that it would nto slip away! There I thought I would have hit bedrock, have found a stable place that I could not forget, that I could not lose. But even there, I thought, dizzily, even there you can forget yourself, even there you can lose the sense of being alive. Even there, when you pay attention, the present is constantly slipping away from you: you cannot see it passing, this moment, you can only watch the wake that it leaves behind it.

And I didn't know what else to do, so I kept on walking.

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