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The Big Room In The Sky


Years ago my old adventuring buddy, Bill Snell, and I were on Cat Island in the Bahamas, doing a little amateur treasure hunting and some diving. We were getting set to head out for the day when he suddenly realized he couldn’t find his dive gloves. We looked everywhere, and to this day we don’t know what happened to them. I remember remarking that they had gone to “The Big Room In The Sky’ – that place that houses all those things you’ve lost – mostly after you turn about 60. It’s around that age The Big Room In The Sky seems to start really pilfering things of yours. Now sometimes you’re lucky and you find your car keys in one of the potted plants, or your eye glasses in the trash, but that’s only because you got to them before they had completed the transition to The Big Room In The Sky.

Now, my lady tells me that it’s because I’m getting older and I’m not paying attention the way I should, and I imagine that plays into it. As you get older memory gets evilly selective – you can remember the names of your favorite girlfriends and the cars you owned and some really great experiences you had 40 years ago, but you can’t remember what you had for breakfast yesterday. You can remember the bad times and the good times decades past but suddenly the telephone number to the bank you use is missing a couple of digits. I suspect I’ve used this before (I can’t remember for sure), but I love the quote by the writer Austin O’Malley, “Memory is a crazy woman who hoards colored rags and throws away food.”

I’ve lost a lot of good things to The Big Room In The Sky. I sure would like to have just ten minutes in that room – just offhand I could probably regain the keys to my ’67 Corvette, the third chapter to my second novel, The Hawks of Kamalon, somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 (that disappeared in increments), a half-dozen pair of eyeglasses, my high school ring, and a really good tennis racquet.

This memory thing can be a real pain in the $#@, but there is one advantage in a bad memory – you get to enjoy several times, the same things again, for the first time. I have seen several movies for the first time, several times.

I talked with my old diving buddy today, and we laughed about The Big Room In The Sky. He asked me if I was still forgetting things, and I told him I wasn’t sure – couldn’t remember. The truth is, we have a tendency to sculpt our memories – we whittle our past into acceptable, even complementary images. The Big Room In The Sky gets the undesirable pieces of our recollections. It all reminds me of a quote by Mark Twain: “Isn’t it so astonishing, the number of things that I can remember, as the number of things I can remember that aren’t so.”