Memory Game

Here’s how you play it. Suppose your present age is p years. Go look up your life expectancy in an actuarial table. This will be p+x years where x – lucky old you – will be a number much greater than zero. Now subtract x from p to get m. Your memory age is m years. Go back and imagine yourself m years old. What do you see? Who is this strange figure? What is s/he dreaming? What does it think it’s doing down there in those wide open spaces of the not yet? What does it feel about the future? Does it know someone x years older than itself? Ask yourself: Does it know about me? Okay, now pull right out of this and think of the ratio: it to me = me to it. You have as many years left as s/he had to get right where you are now playing the memory game. Now react. Weep if you must. Shrug. Laugh out loud if possible. Or mix all three, if that’s how it’s going to work out for you. Of course, arithmetic being what it is, the game changes with your age. Now, if (youthful you) those mortality tables show x greater than p, then you are going to be staring in the mirror and seeing an egg inside your mother’s or maybe even your grandmother’s belly full of wild hope, bad luck and history; in which case quit the game and check out the family photo album. But if (not so youthful you) x is less than p, then you’re in business: playing the game, checking out – with feeling and not a little self-pity – the moves of your wilful, energetic, ardent mirror friend, who, head lifted up, eyes glinting behind the gauze of the unknown, nose full of a thousand scents, pushes off her/his absurdly fragile boat from the shore towards you.

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