Forgetting to Remember That I Forget

Do you find yourself forgetting? I have forgotten all sorts of things like my wallet, birthdays, keys, and the like. Yet the amnesia of self – when I forget who I have promised to be is the kind of forgetting that has cost me family, friends and community! I have lived by habit while others have mistakenly thought I was living by design. In those times I can say that life for me was lost in being compliant, avoiding conflict and seeking relief from something, even when I have been accepted as a valuable member of family, team, or community.

“We have all read in scientific books, and indeed, in all romances, the story of the man who has forgotten his name. This man walks about the streets and can see and appreciate everything; only he cannot remember who he is. Well, every man is that man in the story. Every man has forgotten who he is. One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God; but thou shalt not know thyself. We are all under the same mental calamity; we have all forgotten our names. We have all forgotten what we really are. All that we call common sense and rationality and practicality and positivism only means that for certain dead levels of our life we forget that we have forgotten. All that we call spirit and art and ecstasy only means that for one awful instant we remember that we forget.”             —G. K. Chesterton

I believe one of the signs of our forgetting is our need to “find” ourselves. A quest that presupposes that we know the self for which we are searching! But, what if what Chesterton says is true? That we cannot know ourselves because we are more than what we appear to be?
More than my judgments can capture about me.
In times of loss and failure we find ourselves searching for justification or some kind of relief from the fire of being wrong, losing anything or being ineffective.
However, we can remember that we do forget we are more than our successes and accomplishment, things we have failed at, forgotten to do, or never dared. While there is no capturing who we are, the spirit of freedom, the ecstasy of being together and the art that emerges from the journey is what pierces our amnesia and opens a view of who we can become.