Keeping your mind and your memory alive.
Last night I had the great privilege of moderating a discussion between Eric Kandel and Elie Wiesel at the 92Y in New York City on the topic of memory. I thought I would be humbled sitting between two Nobel Prize winners and indeed I was, but not for the reason I thought. I was humbled by listening to the thoughts of two extraordinarily resilient men who had not only overcome great tragedy and difficulty to succeed, but indeed had embraced their experiences and used them to be ever more creative, driven and altruistic.
You might think that memories of experiences in a concentration camp, of losing those you love most, of being terrorized and forced to give up your home would be ones that you would be content to try to forget in order to survive and move forward. But as Professor Wiesel so eloquently put it “It’s not that I want to live in my past, it’s that I want my past to live in me.” He “never wants to forget, anything but forgetting”. Indeed his past and the past of both men’s traumas have lived on in them and the work they have spent their lives doing. Their life’s work is dedicated to an understanding of memory.