ᴡɪʟʟ ʏᴏᴜ REMEMBER ᴛᴏ FORGET?

“Our lives are not our own, from womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness we birth our future.”

—Sonmi-451, Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

Some of us cherish our memories more than others. Stockpiling the most subtle and seemingly inconsequential moments, for a lifetime. The curators of an extensive collection, of all that we have witnessed. We hold onto the good, and the bad. We wander through the past now and then, trying to make sense of it all. But then some of us willfully forget great portions of our existence. Not always because it’s sad, depressing or even painstakingly boring, we just don’t care, our hearts aren’t in it, not really. In the grand scheme of things, neither approach really matters, even in the slightest.

I find myself capable of remembering a great deal of my life, but I learnt long ago the dangers of dwelling in the past. If you don’t live in the moment and live for the future, you end up like Miss Havisham (Great Expectations). Wearing a wedding dress for the rest of her life after being jilted at the alter, letting the sorrows of the past utterly consume her. Well, maybe not exactly like Miss Havisham, but I’m sure you catch my drift.

Is it beyond the realm of possibility that there are memories, fragments in time you once cherished beyond all else, that have now completely eluded you? Growing old with the love of your life? Holding the hand of your child, as she lay dying, promising, swearing that someday, somehow you’ll see her again? Fulfilling that promise, in the briefest and most trivial of moments, the mere exchange of a glance and neither of you even knew it occurred?

Could it be possible, that you have forgotten entire lifetimes?

According to, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation by Dr. Ian Stevenson, 1966, this could be a possibility. But only because it’s been put forward by a very slim few, that there are some, for a brief time, who do remember. They carry the memory of their former selves with them into the next life, for a short while.

During an interview of Dr. Ian Stevenson:

“He sat there, the venerable swami, looking at me. Finally, he said, ‘Yes it is true,’ meaning reincarnation, ‘but it does not make any difference, because we in India have all believed in reincarnation and have accepted it as a fact, and yet it has made no difference. We have as many rogues and villains in India as you have in the West.”

In virtually all cases of alleged reincarnation of children, all distinct memories of the “past life” are lost by as late as 8 years old. It’s thought by that time an individual has already become invested enough in their “new existence” to hold onto the memories of what was lost. Or perhaps, the convincing charade loses its lustre? Either way, even in these unusual cases, the dead seem to die again.

In the end, the question remains, even if you had lived lives before this one, would you want to remember them? The connections you may have made, the sacrifices. Would you want to remember if you did something absolutely deplorable?

Some have suggested that rebirth/reincarnation, coming back over and over again, possibly repeating the same mistakes, is like a school for the soul. Others however, believe the mortal condition is more of a prison. An obstacle to be overcome. To speculate why or who is responsible for the “trap” is a topic for another time, those farfetched theories are just as possible (or impossible) as the concept of reincarnation itself.

Imagine if there is an afterlife and reincarnation may be one of many doorways, could someone be waiting for you, beyond the veil? Would you let go of this world entirely, the memory of all human life, everything that ever mattered to you, to go beyond?

Will you remember to forget?

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