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The Beauty of Forgetfulness



The other day my wife and I were driving south in the Cleveland Metroparks and something interesting happened. Before entering the Metropark we passed by a small office building on W. 220 in Fairview Park I was reminded of a story from my past. As I began to share the story with Maggie I first qualified it by saying: “I don’t remember if I told this to you before, but…” I started using this disclaimer on all my “stories” after being told by my lovely wife so many times, I can’t count the number, “you just told me that story last week.”


She threatened to have me admitted to the Happy Valley Home for The Memory Impaired if I told her one more tale of “Glory Days” from my past sports achievements and fraternity shenanigans. So, I came up with the above disclaimer to delay being institutionalized.


Back to the car ride. I began to share my remembrance of the time when I, along with a couple of my financial planning associates, considered buying the building and setting up shop there. A strange look came over Maggie’s face and she said, “you know, I’m not sure if you told me that before.” She continued, “even if you did tell me before, I don’t remember, so it’s new to me now.” A look of utter joy now came over her. Maggie finally got it. She finally realized what I have been trying to tell her all these years. Every story is new if you can’t remember talking about it before.


As we age we are given the gift of memory loss. In fact, I feel it is a blessing of advanced years when we can experience “The Beauty of Forgetfulness.” We mature adults should no longer get frustrated when we are told, “hey, you forgot this or that, or you just told me that an hour ago.” There is joy in re-telling or re-listening to a story and having a first-time experience.


Give yourself permission to enjoy for the first time “the tenth re-telling of that winning field goal you kicked or the time you, along with eight other Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity brothers made that 23-hour trip in Frenchy’s van to Daytona Beach for spring break.


If you are the recipient of these stories by the memory impaired I urge you to have a different attitude no matter how many times you’ve heard it. Instead of thinking, “oh my gosh, I am going to go crazy if I hear that one again. Try this, “ I am going to share in the joy of the first time I heard this story. You will feel better about the person telling the story, they will feel better, and you both will have less stress in your life.


Have this “first-time experience attitude” on hearing the story unless the other person is actually crazy. Remember there is always a vacancy at The Happy Valley Home for the Memory Impaired. Oh, by the way, let me know if I have posted this blog before, I don’t remember if I did.

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