Matt Gemmell

My new book CHANGER is out now!

An action-thriller novel — book 1 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon

Remember

personal 2 min read

Sometimes, I can almost remember how.

There’s no particular pattern to when it happens. Maybe I’ll be sitting in my armchair, looking across the room. Maybe I’ll be walking, or driving, or even lying in bed.

The only common factor is the flash of instinct; just as natural as breathing. I find myself right on the cusp of knowing, … and then it slips away.

It’s like a weight falls into the centre of my mind, pushing the knowledge underneath again, in the moment before I could take a good look at it. I’m left with only vague shapes, and the characteristic sinkhole of a memory that’s only defined by what it isn’t.

If it happens when I’m walking, there’s a part of me that knows the simple truth: that forward and back and left and right aren’t the only options. That up and down are there too, and always have been. That it’s just a matter of… what?

Sometimes, it’s on the tip of my tongue.

If it happens when I’m sitting, and I see something across the room – my drinking glass, say – that I want, there’s a part of me that knows it’s always within reach. No matter how far away it is, I can touch it, and lift it, and bring it to my lips. It has something to do with shape, and mass, and the other thing I never quite manage to see.

The missing thing is definitely to do with focus; or rather, with focused ignoring. Pushing away the doubts, and the learned disbelief. The things will happen themselves, entirely naturally, if we’d only let them happen. We’re the problem. We’re the block. If I can only lift up that weight sitting in the middle of my mind, the drinking glass will come of its own accord.

I get so close to it sometimes; more with the walking than the reaching. I’ll be going along the road at my usual brisk pace, and I’ll glance up, and it’ll feel so natural; so unremarkable. Just a different kind of step, and one we’re even more suited to. A more recent kind of step. Just… up, instead of forward.

So close.

Reaching is harder. I’m further from it. The weight in my mind drops back down at the slightest provocation. I have to dodge from side to side, testing paths that won’t cause it to fall. Advancing and retreating, and finding another way around. Stretching out with my mind, inch by inch, trying to feel my way from here to there.

That’s the first step: actually getting over there. If I can manage to reach out and just make contact with the glass, the rest should fall into place. And I know that I could.

It feels like physiotherapy, or rehabilitation. Re-learning a basic motor skill, making progress frustratingly slowly. Halting steps, with setbacks and dead-ends. It’s right there, but it might as well be on the moon.

I suspect that part of the problem is that I’m overthinking it. It feels like instinct, so it should be reflexive. I just don’t quite have the reflex, and I’ve having to discover it by myself.

Tiredness makes it more difficult. A little bit of alcohol seems to make it easier, but too much makes it impossible. Feeling unhappy also has a dampening effect. Just as with anything, I suppose.

But it’s there. It’s there, and it’s normal; I’m sure of it. I’m stumbling around in the dark, fingers outstretched and exploring, trying to find the switch. I haven’t found it yet, but I know it’s there. It’s somewhere inside, just as it’s supposed to be.

Maybe I’m too old to find it. Maybe the window of opportunity was when my mind was in its prime – or even earlier, before our culture put all of the roadblocks in place. Before the weight was placed carefully into my mind, balanced and ready to fall.

Maybe it’s futile to search. But, every once in a while, can’t you feel it?

Don’t you ever look across the room at something, and know you can bring it to you?

Don’t you ever look up instead of ahead, and know that you can go there too?

I do. Not all the time, but I do.

Sometimes, I can almost remember how.