Good books, good friends and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
Whenever I fail to find inspiration in my immediate world, Mark Twain always seems to offer reasons for reflection. This quote is no exception. Whether my inability to remember words, names, situations or facts is due to my age or simply too much information to categorize, it remains a source of frustration. Perhaps the true problem is the frustration, not the inability to remember.
Most of us have experienced the situation. What was the name of the guy with whom we worked at the such-and-such office, in 1980-something? You can remember a variety of small facts such as his penchant for cold coffee, numerous children shown in his desk photograph and his quirky ties. But try as you may, you just can’t remember his name. Ultimately, does it matter? Will you be improved in any way other than the tiny victory of overcoming forgetfulness?
The idea of “sleepy conscience” is worthwhile. Don’t we all have events or actions that we would do differently if the opportunity became available? Somehow, the inability to remember details about these regrettable moments is a blessing rather than the proverbial curse.
Compared to good friends and good books, any flavor of regret pales by comparison. It pleases me to describe my conscience (and my memory) as sleepy rather than a product of senility. Sooner or later, I am likely to remember those things that are worth remembering – names, adverbs, authors, evenings or breathtaking sights. And if not, what’s the harm or foul?
And so, I pass on Mark Twain’s perennial wisdom, for the sake of reinforcing what is good and immortal. If we treasure our friends and the words of our beloved volumes, they will produce the good life. Instead of considering our sleepy powers of recollection a deficiency, perhaps they are incentives for cherishing our gifts. Shalom.