Memories Lost, Moments Gained

What was the name of the place that I visited at least half a dozen times? You know, what's his name...the guy...its on the tip of my tongue. I think his name was Mark, no Mario, no Martin...yes Martin. What I ate for lunch yesterday....I don't know.

Some chronic illnesses, such as Multiple Sclerosis, are associated with various types of memory impairments or loss. Some illnesses may make it hard for people to retrieve stored information, and other illnesses, such as Alzheimer's Disease, may make it difficult to retain newly learned information as well. Depending on the specific chronic illness that a person is living with, the reasons why some people with chronic illnesses may experience memory impairments are not always clearly understood. Forgetting well-rehearsed information or not being able to remember things that you may have just learned can be extremely frustrating, regardless of the source of the memory problems.

It is easy to become upset or even depressed about not being able to recall things that you would have easily been able to in the past. It can feel like you are losing aspects of your life or your self, and it can even be experienced as chaotic at times. Sometimes one may even become so preoccupied with making sure to remember an event that an entire moment, lasting from minutes, sometimes hours or even days, is spent focusing on not losing anymore memories. It makes sense; it is understandable...memories are retained but are any new memories and experiences gained?

Letting go of the fear of forgetting is one of the biggest challenges for people living with chronic illnesses associated with memory loss. It is sad when significant aspects of one's life disappear--temporarily or permanently. However, new experiences are always being made in the moment and you do not want to miss out on them. For example, right now you may be sitting with your beautiful baby niece and maybe you cannot recall what she did the last time you saw her, but you are seeing her now and she is looking at you and smiling. Experience. Life does not end with memory loss, but rather present moments are acknowledged as impermanent, making them potentially appreciated and cherished more than they ever were before.

Today may be forgotten but for today have fun, and since tomorrow you may not remember the happiness of today, recreate joy tomorrow by doing something you really love. You do not need a memory to know what makes you feel good, you just know it, and memory for doing things (like riding a bike) almost never disappear. When a memory is lost, focus on what you can gain...it makes the littlest moment matter. Perhaps every minute of every day would not be so important if you were not so worried about forgetting them. You could just sit, close your eyes and remember all the happy times that you have had. Well if you cannot remember them, then just get up and do what feels good. As for all that practical information that you wish you could remember...write it down. Yes that stuff is important but it makes no difference where it is stored (i.e. brain or blackberry). The present matters. What are you doing right now (besides reading this)? Are you worrying about memories lost or are you gaining a moment?