Sunday, January 17, 2010
I can't remember the name of the capital of Zambia.
I used to know all the countries and capitals of Africa. I studied the map for hours as a child, fantasizing about the exotic places it depicted, the zebras and hippos and vast rivers, the palm trees that are used to make wine.
And then I went there. I even went to Zambia, though only across the border from Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls. I walked in, walked out again, just to see the falls from the other side.
Isn't it strange how our brains let go of things, particularly those academic factoids we don't use? I probably couldn't do algebra now. I couldn't begin to name the periodic table of the elements. (I suppose there may even be new elements, discovered since I learned the table -- just as some countries and capitals on the map of Africa have different names.)
I remember reading somewhere that living means learning to let go -- to deal with loss. Those losses speed up as you get older. The fact that I can't remember the capital of Zambia makes me feel older. But then, that's not such a serious loss, is it?
(Photo: Sticker by Canadian street artist Charlie Green. I never take street art -- I always photograph it and leave it for the next person to find -- but in this case I boosted the sticker. It's now in my photo album. I have a soft spot for Charlie Green's wise, whimsical creatures, with their third eye.)