Is there a panic button for feelings?
I kept thinking of that as I was packing my suitcase for yet another business trip over summer. I think it was the feeling of helplessness which always comes back after seeing the same luggage filling and emptying with the same or similar clothing, a circle between places and feelings without a clear path.
That is a small sneak peak into my brain as to how I came up with today’s question. And while it might sound quite technological and millennial, I would go out of my way for a second to remind you that every poet and writer throughout the years has thought of the same dilemma.
If they had a way to isolate feelings about a person, or a thing, would they actually push that button?
Countless movies have dealt with various iterations of this motif, from Total Recall to Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, to Harry Potter. The common thread is that people given the chance will always try to redact memories from their mind but will regret it will ask for them back. Then of course there’s the case of Black Mirror, a dystopic British sci-fi series. The theme of one of the episodes was that people could actually record all their visual input and then upload them at a cloud service, which of course leads to all sorts of nightmarish implications, because who would like to see everything their partner/friend/parent/child has seen? I shudder at the idea of it.
Sometimes choosing not to know is just as brave as knowing.
Back to feelings though. Would you just throw all your feelings out of the window one day? I do understand that this sounds like a nice way to lobotomize yourself, but say that you could pick and choose some memories that would be taken care of. You wouldn’t have to deal with them again, sleeping would be easier, and daydreaming would have a specific face on it. Plus missing someone would mean a simple cut and paste into a memory stick, and then the problem is solved! Of course afterwards you need to copy and paste the memory back into your head, because otherwise things will go south in the most unsexy way possible.
So would you do it? Would you delete your memories, especially those that pain you?
I say no.
Because those memories are what makes you breathe in a certain way, through those mistakes and that pain you’ve become what you are. Those qualities you gained though re-examining those memories and reliving those moments are what someone else found attractive in you, those flaws that surfaced may be the exact reason someone else thinks you are awesome. And what others have chosen to share about themselves to you is solely what you should judge them by. I would go with trusting people based on what they feel like sharing with me, and I am optimistic that the more time passes, the more I will share and so will they. If not, then that’s a marker of something not going quite as expected.
Would that mean that without those painful memories everything would be simpler and everyone better off? The easy answer is yes.
What stops us, though, in this case, from committing the same mistakes over and over?