Not-So-Total Recall

So, the most recent series of Dr. Who has inspired yet another post. With some mourning, I packaged the bonus features disk to be returned to Netflix tomorrow. Karen didn’t want to bother with it after watching the season over the last two months or so, but I insisted. I like the way it walks me back through the episodes, and allows me to catch some of the nuances I missed the first time: the foreshadowing, remembering the brilliant character development, the incredible writing. Of course, the problem with that is that the huge finale of this season involved recalling one of the most emotionally wrecking moments I can remember from a television series over the past two years, combined with a new twist that is heartbreaking all in itself.

For those of you uninitiated to the Dr. Who universe, the Doctor (the title character) is a Time Lord, the last of his race, and he travels space and time stumbling into various situations in which he heroically and selflessly “saves the day.” The science fiction and time travel theory are brilliantly written, with plot twists that you just don’t see coming until they blindside you. The Doctor travels with various companions, people (typically ladies) who join up with him and become his friends and co-adventurers for some period of time. Two seasons ago, he fell in love with one of those co-travelers, only to have her trapped in a parallel universe in which she was forever barred from being with him. He projected his image to say farewell to her, stating that he was burning up the energy of a star to say goodbye. I’m not afraid to admit it: I was nearly in tears by the end.

This season’s companion was someone who struggled to shake her identity as a “nobody,” and, in her travels with the Doctor over the course of the season, ends up being declared “the most important woman in all Creation,” saving more than one civilization and living adventures she never dared dream. Due to a series of events at the climactic end of the series, however, the Doctor is forced to erase any memory of himself or their travels together from her mind in order to ensure her survival. This is the most tragic ending for her character: all of her dreams were realized, and she became the person of which she had always dreamed, only to be returned to her former life with no memory of any of it whatsoever, doomed once again to be a “nobody.”

This left me thinking tonight about how critical memories are. Our ability to access events from our past, to re-live them in our minds’ eyes, is so incredibly important to how our present, and our future, are shaped. I am so thankful for the technology of digital cameras and camcorders, both of which I have found ever-present with me at family events over the past few years. Two Christmases ago, I carefully recorded and edited the family Christmas movie, knowing somehow that it would be the last Christmas I would have with my grandmother. That prediction turned out to be correct; every minute of video, every single photo, I have of her is now beyond value to me.

When Karen and I were engaged, she bought an engagement journal. Essentially, it is a book with space to record things like our first date, what we both wore, our first meeting of the families, the wedding day, the honeymoon, etc. She has been trying to get me to write in it since we were married, and I still haven’t gotten around to it. Tonight, though, I’m impressed with just how important it is for me to do so. We have a handful of photos from the honeymoon, and a beautiful wedding album…even a video from the day. But certain events, the little things that were said when we were dating and the “inside jokes” that developed but have since faded away, are beginning to drift from memory. I suddenly realize that to lose those would be to lose something so invaluable that I couldn’t even contemplate it…that there would be no way to even measure the loss.

Amazing that, being a writer, I would have a hesitancy to record a journal…especially since that is essentially what I do here. Amazing that I’ve procrastinated that particular journal for so long…something I plan to rectify very soon, because I think to be robbed of our memories, as the character in Dr. Who was this season, would be the cruelest of all things that could happen to us in this life.

And to allow ourselves to forget…well, that’s an oversight we simply must not leave room for.

If you don’t journal, or blog, or keep photos or video, or record your precious moments in some way, then take my advice and begin. Even if they are only for you to read later, they will be worth more than you will ever be able to measure with monetary value. They will be a glimpse into what and who made you who you are today. You don’t ever want to lose that.

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