I Forget

“I think you know what I’m here for.”

The lanky young man grinned conspiratorially at me at he glanced at the guitars on the wall behind the counter.  He had been in the music store just the day before.  I should have known what he was there for.

I had no idea.

Quickly, I sized him up.  Early twenties, tattoos, long black hair with almost a Goth look to him–I remembered hearing him play some pretty heavy rock music on an earlier visit.  He had the look of a heavy metal rocker.

I used those context clues, and glancing at the wall behind me, saw the tribal decorations on the flying v guitar hanging beside the old-school Gibson electric with a natural finish.  With an equally conspiratorial smile, I lifted the tattooed v-shaped guitar from the hanger.

“Yep.  I sure do,”  was all I said.

I didn’t.

Immediately his face fell and he waved his hands in front of his body in a disapproving motion.  Within seconds, a short, humorless laugh was drawn from his throat.

“No, not that one!  The Gibson!”  The words were impatient and almost angry.

No one wants to be forgotten.  No one.

But, I have this problem.

I forget.

It’s not personal.  I don’t do it selectively.

Still–I forget.

As frequently happens, there is music to accompany my thoughts tonight.  In my head, I’m hearing the lyrics to the theme song from the eighties television comedy series called Cheers.  The episodes centered around a little neighborhood bar and the folks who frequented it.  I have forgotten almost all of the story lines, but the main lyrics of the theme song are still stuck in my head.

“Sometimes you wanna go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came…”

We all want to be recognized.  Recognition equals honor in many ways.  If someone is important enough for us to remember their name and their story, they are reassured that they matter to us.

I would like to tell you that the young man standing at my counter the other day matters.  Because the reality is, he does.  That said, I admit my memory of our conversation from just a day or two previous was foggy at best.

I am–slowly–coming to grips with the fact that I can’t keep the names and preferences of every person I meet in my head.  I am learning, more often than not, to camouflage my confusion with humor and questions which offer context clues (better ones than those I come up with on my own) for the direction in which our conversation should go.  We used to call this faking it.

I guess we still do.

Each day now, dozens of folks come through my door, and every one of them has my name on his or her lips.  I could tell you that I have never seen half of them before.  Regardless, they all think they know me.  They know me!

But, therein lies the real problem.  You see, like the song lyrics above, they do know my name.  They do.  Somehow, though, knowing my name isn’t the same as knowing me.

It turns out that even knowing things about me isn’t the same as knowing me.  Because I communicate through my writing and through social media, folks know things about me that they wouldn’t have found out otherwise.

But still–no one really knows me.  Not my closest friend–not even the Lovely Lady.  Oh, she is far closer to knowing me than any other human I know of.  And yet…

And yet, I have secrets hidden which I will never reveal.  I would venture to say that everyone of us does.

It’s clear where this is leading, is it not?

There is One–just One–who knows my heart.  He knows who I am, what makes me tick, the stubborn heart that lives inside of me…

He knows.  Me.

I want to go where Somebody knows more than just my name.

I wonder if there is anybody else who wants to make that journey too.

I always enjoy company.

Just don’t expect me to remember your name along the way.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have you called you by name; you are mine.”
(Isaiah 43:1b ~ ESV)

“I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll be glad to make an exception.”
(Groucho Marx ~ American comedian ~ 1890-1977)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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