“Nothing is over” (part 2)

by Fred

If our neural pathways change and grow physically as we learn things and have experiences, how can it be that we ever forget anything? Very simply, the things that caused us to learn can happen in reverse order and cause us to forget or at least get “rusty” on a few things. We’ve all heard about things that can kill the neurons in our brains. Alcohol comes to mind. But stroke can kill neurons as well. And, of course, Alzheimer’s. However, the information that we learned is not always lost forever. In most cases, the storage pathway in the brain needs to be re-routed once a neuron dies. I can’t go into the complexities of the associational pre-frontal cortex here. But, yes, forgetting can happen. But not at will.

So, what is the good news? The good news is that you can still learn and go forward. That is what living with a sad memory is all about. Going forward. Surviving. Critics can say what they want about the Rambo movies, but they honestly portray the concept of survival. Survival is a struggle that can end in triumph if you don’t give up. And quitting is a certain path to failure. Survival requires surpassing endurance, courage, and loyalty.

Surviving anything requires commitment to one’s self. Survival of a lost love, a bad marriage, drug addiction, abuse all require commitment to yourself. Notice in First Blood that Rambo had no friends. They were all gone. Even his commanding officer seemed to be alien to him. In the second movie, he reached out to some prisoners who reminded him of his comrades. By the fourth movie, he had reached outside of himself and helped those altruistic missionaries who openly rejected violence. He even went home to visit his father.

Commitment to yourself sounds like crock sometimes. I have to be honest, some days I have no idea who my “self” is. That is why meditation is important. My “self” is not what I think it is. It was born and existed before I had much of a consciousness. Your “self” tells you what it is through meditation. The great mystic Thomas Merton says that the “self” is God speaking Its name inside you. Whatever. Either way, “self” knows what it is, and it ain’t what I think it is some days. But it does require commitment.

Well, it looks like I’m coming to the end of another Update, and I haven’t offered much good news yet. What’s the good news about being unable to turn memories off? The good news is that you can survive. In other words, you can learn HOW TO FEEL. The good news is on hundreds of websites all over the world. And it’s on this site, too. How2feel.com doesn’t claim to heal your problems in 30 seconds by rubbing lettuce on your feet or taking rice pills. How2feel.com does offer techniques that you can use to feel better over time by being committed to yourself and maybe even reaching out beyond yourself.

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