memory is fragile

"Reading Woman" by August Macke
“Reading Woman” by August Macke

At times I feel as if I had lived all this before and that I have already written these very words, but I know it was not I: it was another woman, who kept her notebooks so that one day I could use them. I write, she wrote, that memory is fragile and the space of a single life is brief, passing so quickly that we never get a chance to see the relationship between events; we cannot gauge the consequences of our acts, and we believe in the fiction of past, present, and future, but it may also be true that everything happens simultaneously. … That’s why my Grandmother Clara wrote in her notebooks, in order to see things in their true dimension and to defy her own poor memory.
~ Isabel Allende
(The House of the Spirits)

20 thoughts on “memory is fragile”

  1. “in order to see things in their true dimension and to defy her own poor memory.”

    In order to see where we have been and where we my chose to go.

    Beautiful, insightful quote!

    1. Thanks, Jeff! It struck me that if nothing was ever written down we would never “see the relationship between events” in world history or our own family’s history.

    1. Than you for your comment and welcome to my blog, Rumpy! It is a wonderful thing how similar we all are, even to those who came before us and those who are yet to be born.

    1. Thanks, Mags. I still feel amazed when there is such a strong connection to ancestors – it must be “true that everything happens simultaneously.”

    1. “The House of the Spirits” is one of my favorite books, too. I’d like to read more of Isabel Allende’s novels – if only they would make them available on Kindle!

    1. Thanks, Sheryl! Me, too, when I read my grandmother’s letters, the ones she wrote and the ones she received. Your blog about your grandmother’s diary is amazing – “A Hundred Years Ago.” For anyone who would like to check it out: http://ahundredyearsago.com/

    1. You’re welcome, Rosie. I’ve only read this one of Isabelle Allende’s books and I loved it. Do you have one you could recommend for me to read next?

  2. Barbara-this is such a beautiful thought. I believe that in many ways I am both the person who wrote the words and the person who has discovered the words of another. It depends upon the day. Thank you for another beautiful combination of words and art.

    1. You’re welcome, chlost. I think this is why I love quotes and stories so much, I love to write and I hang on many of the words others have written. Every writer’s words seem like a fresh discovery and at the same time seem so familiar…

  3. My dad kept notebooks. Sadly, he didn’t talk about feelings or doubts or hopes. They are simply a log of each day’s activities. Went here, did that. Sigh …

    1. I understand how disappointing it is to read only about activities without any clue of the feelings, doubts and hopes the person writing them down connected with them. Some letters and emails people write are like that, too. And on the other hand, some folks get so caught up in their inner lives that they go on and on, writing endlessly about their feelings without any day to day information at all. No wonder it’s hard to find an interesting balance…

    1. Thank you, Ellen! Care-giving does open up wonderful opportunities for the sharing of stories – I’ve learned so much about my father while spending quiet times with him.

  4. Writing is a way to preserve a memory forever. One day, our memory may fail us but we have are our heart and thoughts in writing to remember, relive, to smile and fall in love all over again. Beautiful post, thanks.

    1. Someone once said, “I write to remember.” Books and letters are indeed treasures that we can pull out at any time, to reminisce, to be informed, guided or entertained. It’s difficult to imagine a life without the written word, and sobering to realize that many of our ancestors were illiterate…

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