I forgot to do a task that I was supposed to do a few days ago, and when I realized my oversight, I felt embarrassed and self-conscious. The task itself was not critically time-sensitive, but I was disoriented by the fact that it completely slipped my mind until 48 hours after I had intended to complete it. I confessed to the person who would be most directly affected, and they were kind and gracious in response.
I’m still embarrassed, but I’m also reflecting on why I forgot. I know it’s symptomatic of the overall nature of the week, filled as it has been with many commitments, and schedules to keep, and distractions (joyful and otherwise) of the season. I know it’s because I didn’t write a to-do list to help me manage all those things. I know, at the very least, I simply didn’t prioritize this supposedly-important-to-me task. And so, I forgot.
I’m sensitive about the topic of memory loss and do not to make light of it. I love too many people — including but not only my father — whose lives have been or are affected significantly by very real memory loss and/or cognitive impairment. Theirs is not the forgetfulness of a distracted person who isn’t adequately prioritizing their commitments.
Neither is this forgetfulness the same as not remembering people and times from long ago that haven’t been been present in our conscious minds for years … only to have them surface in surprising moments. Or perhaps not-so-surprising moments, like when we gather to honor lives lost to gun violence and realize we know more of those victims’ names than we realized. That’s partly what ritual is for — to help call to mind those we might otherwise forget.
But right now I’m taking a moment to notice my recent basic forgetfulness, and to learn from it. I know that I will serve no one well — not myself, not you, not my family, not my friends — if I try to do more than my fair share of the work … emotionally, practically, or otherwise. I’m capable of doing a lot, but not everything.
So I’m feeling grateful for the grace of friends and colleagues who show me grace when I drop the figurative ball, who help me remember to know what’s most important. May we all show the same grace to ourselves, and to each other.