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Forged by Memory forever

Things happen. Life goes on; we pass by a vast myriad of happenstance as we go on our way in life. Most moments, though perhaps never forgotten, get shelved into some mental folder and put away in our brain, into a folder we may never open again as long as we live. It’s just life; it’s just the way it is.  So  much comes and goes.

We live in an age awe struck by the abilities of ever increasing powerful computers. Now, governments friendly or not to one another, use computers using Petaflops-programs able to perform a trillion operations per second. Incredible. Is it really time for Mankind to take a back seat to the machine, to the computer, to the petaflop? Maybe. But there is this:

Many years ago, around Easter as I recall, I traveled North to Asheboro, North Carolina to visit my Uncle,  Aunt, cousins and my 89ish year old Grandmother. It was a large gathering comprising people of different ages from many different  regions of the country. The weather was perfect. My Aunt Donna forever ingrained in me during this gathering the truth about her unending patience and willingness to provide for all those who crossed her doorway: as such I remember her mostly in the kitchen, serving breakfast or preparing the meals we all enjoyed. All this happened while my Uncle John, my dad’s youngest and hippest brother, often sat in the finished basement expounding on stuff I never even had thought of.

My generation mostly all wore their hair long, fought against the laissez-faire establishment and smoked as much weed as possible to prove it.  My brother had traveled with his wife from Massachusetts, all of our college attending cousins had made it a point to show up and I arrived with my ‘new’ companion, Dale. Even a few Morgan Pirates showed up from their caves in Northern New York! It was my task to return to Florida with my Grandmother once we left this gathering.   I looked forward to this trip as my grandmother then and until the day she died at 95 remained as keen as ever, often recalling days I could only read or dream about.

“Tell me more Grandma, tell us more.”

It was only  several weeks after I’d introduced my companion Dale to my Grandmother at this reunion that I heard she’d thought ‘Dale’ would be a guy, and she’d had expected  to accept I was homosexual.  Heck, even today, when I mention my wife’s name to strangers on the phone or in person they  still seem to react or sound like we’re keeping a secret. It’s odd, but true, I still experience this reaction today-for those who have same sex significant others I can only imagine what some of your interactions are like on a daily basis? Chin up.

Anyway, the days went by too quickly as all fun time does-just think about dates, good ones and ones you wish you could get out of. See? Time changes.  But even in the whirlwind of cousin companionship a group of us found  time to hit the basketball court for a show down. With shirts off, wearing belts  to hold up our jeans hanging on no bellies what-so-ever, with sneakers squeaking the driveway pavement,  we bantered,  we laughed, pushed, shoved and missed shots while needling one another about it. This was, after all, the one and only Championship game of this reunion. Claims would be made afterwards-we all knew it.

Of course, the moment passed. But today I still recall my exact feelings for this moment-I can feel the wind, hear our voices, see the shoots hit the rim and swoosh the net. I can see the light in each other’s eyes and still feel the hope we each had for ourselves and for one another.  I can hear my Grandma’s voice, my Uncle John’s laugh and see myself playing guitar at the kitchen table.

So yes, computers are amazing-but what about people? How many petaflops do we instantly use when recalling  moments we want  or need to about any given occasion? Sure, some of our memories may be skewed from reality due to our emotions presently or due to the emotions we had during the time of the moment being recalled. But you know what?  How deep, how many layers, nuances, twists and turns do our emotions have? How many petaflops does it take to store them? And, most importantly, how many computers could ever feel them?  Yeah-that’s what I’m thinking-our emotions are unto us, completely unique, unmeasured by quantities.

Yes. We need, love and use computers. But I don’t care how many Petaflops a computer has, I don’t want to date one. And as for our human abilities to remember our past experiences? The jury’s out on how many layers, calculations and calibrations are really involved with them.



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January 2011
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