Memory is a bit of a bitch, isn’t it? It never quite works the way we want it to, pushing up irrelevant details in front of good ones, or even making up whole scenes on a whim. The line between fact and fiction is usually the messy demarcation of memory blurring the boundaries beyond recognition.
Memory also is not very strong. Any emotion can come in and overwhelm it. Depression, for example, is a vicious filter on memory, locking away any nurturing feelings and enlarges any bad-natured events, so all one can access is act after act of depravity, anger, indifference. When depression works its way into one’s memory files, it’s close to impossible to break free of the invading darkness. Chemical jump-starts are needed to unlock the connection with past joy and the possibility of future happiness.
I’ve been struggling with my fiction projects this week so thoroughly I’ve been teetering on the verge of questioning my very existence. Depression is often guised in Frustration and can quickly clear all bits of satisfaction from view. In attempts to fight it off, I found myself making a deal of sorts with the Matrix Devil. In the Matrix movies, The Architect tells Neo everything about Neo’s existence is is fake and none of Neo’s actions really matter. Writers have a version of this Matrix Devil in the form of Doubt and Damaged Self-Consciousness. The Matrix Devil gnaws at your ego and exploits its weaknesses until you give up. “Nothing in your life matters,” it says.
But Neo chooses to keep fighting. Why? Because if “nothing matters” then it won’t matter if he fights; Neo realizes there must be something to fight for, even if he can’t fully grasp what that is. He sees something matters to The Architect, so therefore there must be something that matters in his own life (which is probably in conflict with The Architect’s). Neo sees through the Matrix Devil’s message. Things matter, even if only a slight bit, and they more than likely matter more than he himself can ever know.
I need to drop the depressive self-consciousness all writers seem to fight off and simply write. Thinking my actions (mostly) don’t matter can be liberating, actually. In fact, I am obligated to think they don’t matter much or I won’t write at all. I must remember those times it felt good to write.
But that’s the secret, isn’t it? Liberating memory’s hold on the joyous times, the rewards, the pretty –but useful– delusions. This whole writing life may all be fake, but it’s my fake. It’s my delusion. And I can memorialize it any way I want.
And ye who would judge, judge away. Away, away, from here.
Photography and Artwork by me, Christine Cavalier. Creative Commons with Credit, Please.