Day 866, November 15, 2022

The Whetstone

It is going to snow tonight, maybe sleet. I wore my new down coat today, the one with the faux fur rimmed hood. I tucked my gloved hands in my pockets and contemplated the resonance of childhood. In the Ishiguro novel I am listening to, the main character, Christopher Banks, recalls how children are more attuned to the unspoken sensations of a moment, even if they don’t understand the broader import of the event. How as children, we catch the furtive glances, the veiled malice, the language of gesture and emotion. I think for years I thought I understood more Korean than I actually did because I, nevertheless, understood what my relatives and family friends were saying to me. With my entire being, I understand what Ishiguro wrote about.

However, I’ve grown to mistrust my sense of perception. Certainly, it has dulled with time, the way a well used knife needs honing, but more than a dull knife, I do not remember details as finely as I once did. I was once famous for my facilities at remembering moments, and those from my childhood, I still see as clearly as if I am seeing them on the screen of a 19” Sony Trinitron television. I can relive stories from my childhood as if they are episodes from a sitcom on rerun. 

More recently, I wonder if I remember things coherently, if my recollection of fact, is altered by yearning, frustration, nostalgia. How much of a moment was truly a treasured moment, and how much of it is treasured only in the reliving? How much was unhappiness an aspect of a time, and how much was unhappiness also mixed amidst joy and happiness, as we experience things from day to day? I censor my thoughts and recollections. Am careful about what I dwell on, and what I share. Certain memories are covered with a thick film of dust like the top edge of the shower stall.

I wonder if it is possible to recover that innocence of perception, if the predominant memory of a person might once again be the way they smelled. Or if I could imagine to know how a person was thinking on the inside without them saying anything at all, and that perception would fix itself in an unquestioned reality. Perhaps, it would be like putting on glasses and I would remark at how surprising it is to notice objects and images pop into such clarity. If each day we might remember one another as if we knew it was potentially our last parting, like how after dinner, as a friend and I parted, he called out across the street, “I love you.” And I called back, “I love you too, man.” We said it just to be sure. 

Aging frays things.


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