soul, mind, spirit

i don’t remember things. like the names of streets that i’ve driven down a hundred times, like the stories behind holidays i’ve celebrated since i was born, like the date of my parent’s anniversary. at a family reunion, i do not remember the names of my cousins i played with as a child. for a moment, i don’t remember the name of my dead uncle’s wife.

there are thousands of large and small omissions, bits of information i swear normal people have built into their DNA: the speed of light, so-and-so’s running mate 10 years ago, the capitol of wyoming, the way treasury bills work. mostly, i’m not bothered by my mind’s resistance to what it considers meaningless, but sometimes i feel oddly off balance, like the whole world has figured out how to cope, how to master life on the grid, but me. without a memory that invests in information retention, without a memory that can remind me at all times of who i definately am, i feel amorphous, missing the unbroken black outline around my body that everyone else seems to have.

a good friend has decided that Soul is Mind, that Mind describes and encompasses the larger idea of Spirit. “you cannot Be without Mind,” she says, referring to something that includes, but is much larger than, her brain. knowing well the limitations of my own mind, i am skeptical, disapproving. “it’s the heart,” i say, laying my flat palm over my beating organ, feeling the heat grow between skin and skin, through the cotton of my tee shirt. “you cannot have Soul without heart.” i, too, am referring to something ineffable, something much larger than the muscle in my chest.

we are talking about God, i think, and memory.

she shakes her head no as i look at her, wanting to remember how she looks to me on this sunday afternoon in my living room with the sun streaming through my big windows. my mind ticks away, registering her waffled army-green tee shirt, thick silver hoops, and brown, almond-shaped eyes. i sum her up, compare her today with her another day, piece her psyche together from all the strands of memory. my eyes do all they can and then, as if considering a collage by Bearden or a painting by Van Gogh, push the task gratefully onto my dumb, mute heart.

because when it comes time to remember this girl it will not be all perfectly articulated platitudes or carefully constructed diagnoses. when it is time to remember her after she leaves it will be my heart – lazy, slow, decidedly not smart – that will pull and yearn and twist around like a dog in the dirt. it will be my heart that will force my mind to remember her face, the way it felt to be with her, the way she looked sitting on the sofa, telling me that Mind, to her, is everything. my heart will have registered the deeper meaning snakeing and elusive beneath her desperate pieces; my heart alone will allow me to remember her whole.

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