The Importance and Fragility of Memories

Not too long ago a friend and I were reminiscing, and she mentioned something funny that had happened in the past. I had no recollection of her memory whatsoever, although apparently I was there.

I didn’t dwell on the fact that I couldn’t revive this memory at all until I was fixing to go to sleep. That night, I asked my husband if he thinks that there are certain things that happen in your life that cannot ever be remembered – life experiences that are permanently gone.

He mentioned that there is short term memory and long term memory and that it’s not possible to hold onto all of your life experiences in long term memory.

This realization made me feel something – not as strong as panic… Something that falls between sadness and fear. I don’t want to lose any of my memories.

It’s the reason why I try to write out my thoughts, and why I keep my journals and art and poetry from middle school and high school. It’s the reason why i have an entire suitcase full of memories stored in the back of my closet, and why I like to take pictures. I can’t stand the thought of forgetting, and if I get rid of anything, those experiences will no longer exist. They’ll disappear.

I want to be able to retrieve my life experiences in the same way that you can retrieve a book from a library. Books bound and organized chronologically by year. I don’t know how often I would go back to them, but it would be there when I need to see something, or when I need to show it to somebody who may be going through a similar situation.

I wonder what would happen if you could hold onto all of your memories. Would it make you a different person?

How does a person’s mind decide what is important and what is not? Does it hold onto memories that solidify your pre-conceived beliefs? Is it based on how strong your feelings are during that time? Or just based on chance?

How does the mind choose what to edit out? Does what gets edited out depend on the person? If a person has the exact same life experiences as I had, would their minds choose to hold onto different memories?

I always go off on tangents when I start thinking about memory…I feel like it’s a complicated topic.

It’s always interesting to look back at journal entries or letters from the past. In a way, it allows you to see things from your past point of view, but also from a more separated, objective point of view. I think that being able to do this is a very unique and useful experience that can provide you with very good insight about yourself, or about the experience in general. I wonder if you can hone this skill and use it in real-time. I’ll bet you could.

Anyway, I could write a novel stating my opinions or theories on this topic, but I think I’ll wrap it up.

Let me know how you feel about holding onto stuff from the past.

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4 thoughts on “The Importance and Fragility of Memories

  1. I’ve thought of this too, in a sad way sometimes too, which is why I’m afraid to let go of the photographs I probably could… And the part where you said “It’s always interesting to look back at journal entries or letters from the past. In a way, it allows you to see things from your past point of view, but also from a more separated, objective point of view.” oh my goodness, yes. I’ve looked back at old journal entries and almost been embarrassed, lol. Was I ever really that naive? Yes, lol and sigh… πŸ™‚ This such a good post, I can’t believe I’m only the second to comment. Anyway, good, intriguing thoughts… πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yeah, it does make it hard to let go of physical things that represent the past. I constantly need to force myself to remember to live in the present more. In many ways, reflecting on the past is good, but when done too much it can numb you to things happening in the present. It’s a constant challenge. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I too save and store lots of ‘stuff’. From my children’s baby teeth (gross one might say) , to my pressed corsage from when we got married. I have a toll ticket from a bridge that we use to walk over back in the 60’s, my husband wrote ‘I love you’ on it, we were 16. These things I cannot get rid of, that will be left for my children to do…. lovely thought provoking post.

    Like

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