Did I write that already?

  Life is not one thing after another.
  It’s the same damn thing over and over.

          Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950)

When I first moved to Toronto, I lived in the Annex (in a horrible one room apartment with a shared bathroom in the hallway – but that’s another story) and my route to UofT took me past the Church of Christian Science.  Every week the pastor would post the topic of that week’s sermon.  The topics were always titanic: LOVE; GOD; LIFE; DEATH.  You get the idea.  But after a while I noticed that they were repeating.  That the pastor was rotating through some set list.  It seemed like cheating.  Weren’t his/her parishioners noticing?  Didn’t they mind?  And sure, there is probably more than one thing to say about LIFE but couldn’t he/she have then come up with a new title?

All this to say that years later I’ll draft some sentence that strikes me as pretty good but also vaguely familiar.  My god, was I inadvertently plagiarizing?  But inevitably I’d realize that the issue wasn’t copyright infringement but memory-loss.  It was me, me who had already used the sentence in some variation in another work.  Perhaps it was original, but like the good pastor of the Church of Christian Science, the repertoire needed work.

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