24 February, 2009

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Take 2

Would you really erase the memory of a person’s entire existence if you could? Would you ever think that you learned so little from an experience, that it would be better to just purge it from the archives, potentially dooming yourself to repeat the same mistakes? Do we ever have experiences that teach us nothing? Is that possible? I suppose that with zero will for introspection, it could be that an experience would yield a net of nothing gained. If nothing else, isn’t there at least the potential to learn that you need to learn from your experiences? Really, it would be nice to not make choices that result in situations where a full brainwashing becomes necessary to ever be “right” again, assuming there was ever a “right” in the first place.

I reflect on Eternal Sunshine, the movie, with a favorable memory of it being a film about love and destiny that defies all forces. But the other side of that coin is that Eternal Sunshine is promoting the notion of not coping, but instead just running away. And of course the end result we don’t get to see, but we can presume that we are doomed to repeat our same mistakes over and over if we don’t learn from them.

Take a movie like Groundhog Day, and it does almost the opposite spin on memory and second chances. There, instead of the protagonists being forced to relive the same mistake, even in the knowledge of their folly, there’s a commitment to break new ground. Bill Murray’s character is not bound to repeat his mistakes again and again. Instead, he’s actually given an opportunity to keep trying until he gets it right. A chance to have all those do-overs with the knowledge of his previous trials. It’s sort of an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind of everyone else. I guess, while ESotSM took an idealistic view of things, Groundhog Day had a very real message, which is that every day is a chance to do something better, with the knowledge you’ve gained thus far. And if you keep on burying the past, you can’t possibly expect a better outcome the next time.

I came up with a saying a number of years ago. I imagine that I was not the creator of the statement, but I’ll take credit because I’d never heard anyone say it: “You only have one chance to get it right the first time”. I still believe that statement is true. Because it is an absolute truth in its composition. But I don’t any longer believe that we’re forced to accept failure or to think that things can’t be just as good if you get it right the second time, or the third time, or the tenth time. Whatever “it” is.

I don’t want to reject my memories. But I do want to put many things behind me. There are lessons I have learned, and there are things that have been painful. I don’t cherish all of these memories. But they’re an integral part of me. Writing about them, here or elsewhere, offers me a place to remember what I felt, and when. And it’s a way to ensure that even if things are behind me, the feelings and lessons learned are never lost.


  1. M. Feeble:

    I like your stuff. You're an interesting read. I just started my own blog and found you listed under a friend's list of blogs she follows.

    Keep up the good posts.

    I'm intrigued.

  2. I say erase and run! Ha, just kidding. Lesson finally learned. Makes it so much easier to live with the memories.

  3. you are unattractive and dull

    1. Dear Anonymous... again,

      I can only assume that you're the same "Anonymous" who spoke so kindly of me in a comment on another post that you made on this same day. That begs the question of why you'd bother reading two of my entries if I'm do damn dull, unless you were just looking for things to make you angry.

      Anyhow, I figured your thoughtful comment deserves publishing.

      Thank you!