Friday, December 17, 2010

How Do You Remember

I've been thinking a lot lately about memories, how we make them, how we store them and how we recall them. The things we choose to commit to memory are interesting - it's not necessarily what the logical mind would say is most "important." But, of course, there's not much logical about memories, or even most of the brain, as far as I can tell. At least not my brain.

There are moments from 40 years ago I remember with clarity, that were seemingly insignificant events. At the same time there are "big picture" things I have only a vague sense of.

Does it really make sense that I can remember a moment with a classmate when I was in second grade, and who I haven't seen in decades, more clearly than I remember signing the papers to buy my house? No. But, I can put myself back in that gymnasium playing dodge ball much easier than I can seat myself at the table in the title office. 

Experts tell us that emotion attached to memory is part of what makes them stay with us. And, the unpleasantness of being in a gym with screaming kids had more negative emotion attached than being in an office. Yet, the drama of committing myself to a home for the first time should have been a significant event.

Maybe it's that there were other difficulties going on when I was signing for the house and they "diluted" the emotion of it all. Maybe I had simply experienced enough emotional events by then that it was more easily kept in perspective than the child's moment.

Maybe it's that when I was signing for my house I knew I was changing lots of things in my life and that all were improving, and as a child I felt stuck - that I would have to be confined in gyms with yelling kids for years to come.

While I was thinking about this, I ran across this blog post from Stefani Twyford, and found her comments fascinating. I'm still contemplating how I process memories. It's worthy of some thought.

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