I was excited when I came off the wait list for Liane Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot because I’ve heard excellent things about the film version. I didn’t know much about the plot going in and my initial thought was it was about a person who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
The book starts out with a woman who has fallen at her gym and regained consciousness, thinking it was ten years ago and that’s she’s pregnant with her first child. Past this, I won’t go further to spoil the plot, but I find it an intriguing and terrifying concept to discuss.
From the movies (and books) the concept of hitting your head and suffering amnesia is a romantic concept, of which I have fallen prey. Not that I’ve ever lost my memory, but the idea of it hooks me in and gets me thinking, which is a mark of an effective plot device.
I often joke that if I ever lose my memory, the first thing I want my family to do for me is read Harry Potter because I’ll never have a chance to relive them as something new. If you really think about it, it’s not a light concept at all because there are so many terrible ways one can lose their memory, and never gain it back, and there are many unanticipated repercussions of realizing you’ve lost a few years of your life.
As someone who believes I have been suffering a quarter-life crisis of sorts, I sometimes think longingly of ten years from now, when I’m 35 and may seemingly have my life sorted out. It’s scary and difficult to start out on a career path that will consume and define so much of who you are. It’s also hard to try new things and go on exciting adventures because of time, money, and expectations.
One thing I have learned from hearing stories on the news, in my town, or personally, is that life really is so short. Anything can happen at any time that makes the small, daily trials and tribulations seem so small. It’s far too easy to get caught up in obstacles that life throws at you and to believe that the world is against you. Sometimes, it probably is, but I can’t claim that belief. As many tragic, terrible things there are in this world, there are also magnificent ones. In my tiny shell, I’ve been blessed with good fortune and seemingly smallish problems, and I try to focus on the good, while recognizing there is bad in the world.
It would be, seemingly, very easy for me to fall asleep right now and wake up ten years later to find what has happened to me. There a multitude of directions my life may take me, depending on so many different circumstances, happenstances, and choices I, or someone else may make, to get me there, or not. It would be easy and somewhat nice to wake up and find that I’ve met my soulmate (Chris Evans, waiting on you), bought a house, am succeeding in a career, pursue hobbies, travel, am fit and strong, etc, etc. I won’t even go into the bad things that may lie at my feet or the people and moments I may have missed losing.
Despite if I’ll be thrilled, mournful, exhausted, or a variety of a million different emotions in ten years on, I don’t want to wake up one day and find that I’ve reached that point, at least with no memory of how it happened. I want those ten years of memories. I want the hard moments where I feel as though I want to pull out my hair, cry myself to sleep, or feel such pressure of anxiety building in my chest, that I might explode. I also want those pure moments of happiness with loved ones, laughter, and love coursing through me. I want all the firsts, the lasts, and the in-betweens; the stress, relief, and rush of the unknown; I want to have gotten to a place of success, or failure, from the blood, sweat, and tears, that I remember with such poignance and purpose.
It’s not necessarily just what happens to us that makes us who we are, puts us where we are, defines what we are, how we do things, or why, but the processes, the actions and the evidence we put forward, that provide us with the wrinkles, scars, and memories.
I don’t think we can appreciate anything of substance without realizing how it came to be. Some things are serendipitous, though that is a definite opinion. I believe that everything happens for a reason, but with the condition that we have led ourselves to that point with choices, actions, mistakes, and purpose. Some things happen to us and for us that we have no control over, depending on where we are born, when, and to whom. We are so dependent on how other people act, believe, and live their lives, that it’s no wonder the world can be such a scary place to live.
Christmastime in particular motivates me to watch the old tapes my parents filmed of me and my siblings when we were older. Time is such an odd concept to me because in any particular moment, people are living and breathing and doing so vividly and then all but the memory, if that, exists. People disappear, no matter how real and alive they seemed. Time passes and surroundings are altered and we stop for a second and we look around or we think back and we say, how did it get to this place? Time is both terrifying and thrilling, burdensome and healing, temporary and everlasting.
It’s funny how time can change perspectives in a second, minute, hour, day, week, year, ten, twenty, fifty, hundred, a lifetime. No matter what lays ahead, no matter how scary, we are going to eventually reach that point, or we won’t. Sometimes it takes a moment of courage and a deep breath, but we try to live in the present, to appreciate and remember even then, with the anticipation of what might be coming next.
All of these thoughts, this is what a good book with an interesting storyline does. It inspires thinking and reflection. This very blog post is the product of quality entertainment because it places you within something bigger and more meaningful.