I’ve written this article 2 days ago. Since then the muse of the subject kept me busy in our spring vacation. I hope you will forgive me for enjoying 2 great days with my husband (also my inspiration) and not talking with you. We might do the same tomorrow and Friday, by the way… 🙂
When? What? Who? How? Why? How long? We all had these questions going around in our heads about something from the past. We all ended up answering them, either by ourselves, either with help from other persons involved. Every time we used our memory to do that. We recalled memories.
They are good, the memories, as they help us building our identity. We are composed by past, present and future. In other words, what we did already, where that took us, how we are today and which are our dreams and action plans for the future.
BUT…what if our memories are not accurate? What if who we know we are today is based on false memories of how and why we’ve got here?
As it is a subject who intrigues me, I gave it some attention during the past years and I can say for sure that our memories are not real. We change and adapt them so they can fit better with our beliefs and desires. It’s not me saying that, it’s the many studies made in the domain that prove this.
This is how it’s possible that 2 or many persons who have lived the same event will have slightly or totally different recollection of the event. And it gets worse with the passing years. From my point of view, it’s normal to have it like this. We are different persons, different personalities, different perceptions, paying attention to different details of the same event. Plus that we filter them and adapt the story every time we tell it. So, every time we remember something, we do it a little bit different. You don’t need to believe me, neither the many studies already done. Just take a notebook and write the same memory many times, with pauses between every writing. Take few years, without reading what has already been written. When you fill all the pages, read them. Oh, and…did it happen to you to remember something with certitude and to realize later it was far from the truth? I’m absolutely sure I did that! I know for sure I put it there! Does this sound familiar?
And yet, we still trust our memories in a great measure. We even use them to inculpate criminals.
We cherish them. Our memories, I mean. I remember I wanted to heal people when I was 4 years old so I became a doctor. I remember her saying something to me 10 years ago, so I am not talking with her anymore. I know I took the car keys, I just don’t remember what I’ve done with them…
Because, yes, we also have selective memories. In other words, we forget details and events in a selective manner. Sometimes to protect ourselves and allow us to grow, other times because we are not comfortable with it. We also forget as a method of clearing the space on our hard-disk. Imagine keeping all our memories since conception!
I have always said my memory is poor. I was not able to retain the details for long except if there was something with an impact on me. In the meantime I’ve learned that the memory is like a muscle that you train. So I started to read more, I’ve learned a new language, did some meditation and sport. Today I can tell you for sure that it worked, as I am able to retain details and conversations and persons. And it feels great! But I still don’t rely on my memory 100%. I still write down important information and details, to be sure they remain accurate. Even happenings, as I live them in the present. Dreams, too…
I love my memories. They allow me to smile while day-dreaming in the middle of the winter about a summer day at the ocean or sigh while seeing a golden retriever on the street, remembering of my own. I would be empty without my memories. Not remembering how I’ve met my husband or how cheese tastes like or how a specific song sounds like… would make the present less meaningful (I would not remember it, anyway). So I cherish my memory.
Oh, and I really hope I will avoid the Alzheimer…