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In a few weeks, I am 69 years old.  You can imagine that my poor little brain tries to hold a lot of important memories.  Indeed, if you are only 35, my mind is trying to retain twice as many memories as yours.  And like any bird’s nest, there is only room for so many birds.  So it is the birds that are already in the bird’s nest that always have more leverage to stay.  The birds that are recently trying to get in are much less likely to stay very long,  In fact, the odds are heavy that the newest birds will get kicked out of the nest they made of my brain in a very short time.

It is also true of our short memory when we reach a certain age in years.  Any computer has been built with a certain capacity rate for the number of megabytes it can store.  Excuse me if I am using ancient computer language person , but remember that I am an ancient person, born when Harry S. Truman was president and Joseph Stalin was dictator of Russian.

And my memory has quite a trick of remembering things that happened extremely long ago, such as the day that Stalin had died, and my mother taking care of us while my father was still in South Korea as an Air Force captain/flyer in the wake of he recently ended Korean War.  First my mother said in our upper-floor San Francisco apartment to four-year old me and my one-year-old brother, very dramatically, “Josef Stalin is dead.”  Immediately I knew this was of extreme importance – important to all of life, in fact.  Then after all that sank in my memory went on to say, “Malenkov is going to take over. Malenkov is a very bad man.”

Since my mother was Australian, and she had lived in Australia as the Japanese Axis Army/Nazi was moving very close to invading her country, she had developed the practice of taking current events very personally.  But I really wanted to insert this to show you that at my advanced age, my mind can do tricks such as remember exact American words a mother said about Slain dying about 65 years ago.

Throughout our cultural history, we have endeared the image of the American senior through the roles of Hollywood actors who seemed in retrospect to have matured through their careers specifically to portray the difficult qualities of older people.  These would have included Gabby Hayes, Walter Brennan, Jessica Tandy, Sir John Gielgud, Monty Woolley, Sir Ralph Richardson, William Frawley, Irene Ryan, and Anthony Quayle – among others.  Each of these actors have left indelible impressions in their art of the older person who is comically irascible, forgetful, and simply difficult.

But up it until now, there was no diagnostic complication in artistically depicting an older person in our society.  Walter Brennan in the old TV series “The Real McCoy’s”  and William Frawley in “I Love Lucy” and “My Three Sons” may have been irascible, but in a very acceptable way. But today the older person comes under the gun of an Age of Diagnosis.  Today there is even an Alzheimer’s test that pus a checkmark on older people who do not remember what they ate for breakfast on any given morning.

To be fair, it is not only older people today who are being tied up by today’s Age of Diagnosis.  Young people are being diagnosed to state of near death as well, particularly any young person who exhibits any kind of restlessness before being slowed down with labeling of ADD or ADHD and its current sedative prescriptions of Ritalin and other drugs.

People are beginning to find out that hyperactive children are a necessary part of a population that needs hyperactive people like a Thomas Edison to put the element time into a progressive format. 

I also think there is something necessary about being forgetful when you have accumulated a certain number of years of memories.  At a certain, point, if you simply keep collecting all the memories coming at you pell-mell, you will finally get so top-heavy with memories that you will being to lose some other things that are more vital to you – such as focusing.

In my case, I am far from conceding that if I forget what I had for breakfast this morning, that I am a candidate for being locked up in an assisted living facility.  The truth is that we all forget the things that are least remarkable to us first.  On the other hand, if I do something that is actually very remarkable – if I walk around naked in my front yard today – I will surely remember that all day.

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.