My Mind Is Like A Self-Describing Thing

I was just thinking about my brain just now, and while I can't remember everything I thought about, I think it had something to do with my having a bad memory.

It's awful, actually, my memory. So's the predicament of having a bad memory. They're both awful.

Well, not entirely, I suppose - I'm a great confidante, for example, because I'll never reveal your secrets. "You swear you'll never tell anyone?" "Yep. I swear." Of course, I'll need to be told those secrets all over again if you ever want to talk about it with me, but that's a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with spilling your guts into a sieve.

Maybe this is why I'm such an avid photographer, note-scribbler and receipt-saver, I wonder. I could be holding on to these things as prompts, memory joggers that might one day lead me back to some of the many moments I've lost. My scraps of paper are like Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs. Or was it Little Red Riding Hood? Whoever it was that scattered the crumbs as they (or she) (or he) walked through the forest... that one.

I swear, I could have solved the mysteries of the universe in the car this morning, and they'd have been gone by the time I hit the front door of my office. Caffeine may have something to do with this.

So I've decided what my mind is like. It's definitely not like a steel trap, and while it would be easy to compare it to some sort of computer - what with the input and output and so forth, and a teeny tiny hard drive - I don't really want to be compared to a computer.

It's also not like a drum. I have a drum here on my desk, and it's really cool - all hammered metal with a stretched animal skin head. There are two, and the other one's just as cool - smaller, and wooden instead of metal. I actually wouldn't mind having a mind like a pair of tablas. Tablas are from Northern India and Pakistan, you know.

If my mind were like a drum I could make arcane comparisons, like that I am an instrument, and that the universe beats against my mind and causes it to resonate sympathetically, harmonically, casting my tone out into space. That might solve the whole Mysteries of the Universe thing at the same time, actually. That would be nice.

But my mind is not like a drum. It doesn't just transform pressure into sound; in fact it's pretty quiet.

Nope - my mind is like a magnolia tree. It sits in the dirt and absorbs what's around it, watching the birds fly past and the cars honk their horns. It's one big thing made up of millions of tiny things, all interconnected, and each of them does its work individually, and shows its progress individually, but if you stand back from it you can see how all the little parts are doing the same thing at the same time, and the whole thing changes color. Occasionally.

You can water the soil, or prune the branches, or talk to it all you want, but you can never predict exactly when it will bloom, or exactly what it will look like. But it will be pretty - that's almost a certainty - as long as you like magnolia trees. Not everybody does.

And then, after just a little while, it drops its petals, forgetting what it did or how it did it or how many times it's done it before. The petals cover the ground below, gradually breaking down into the dirt and being reabsorbed by the tree's roots, making it a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger than the last time it bloomed.

The flowers are replaced by leaves, and the birds continue to fly by, and the cars keep honking past, and sure enough it goes dormant once more. But it'll be back.

I should write that down ... take a picture ... something. I must try to remember that. It will be back.

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