It never occurred to me when I was younger that I might so easily remember the many details of my life experiences once I reached middle age.
I remember things I didn’t consciously commit to memory, but somehow I’ve retained them nonetheless. For example, my first day of elementary school; the time I insisted on tasting Crisco® because I was sure it was whipped cream, or; the first time I held a girl’s hand.
I certainly didn’t think I would remember my first telephone number and almost every number since; the theme of my 9th grade dance, or; the beautiful owner of the bright smile and infectious giggle who surprised me with a welcome, yet unexpected, midnight kiss as we rang in 1982.
For most people, it’s easy to remember a high school or college graduation, the first job, the first car, marriage, children, or retirement because these life events or “Memory Moments,” as I call them, are really known as episodic memory and are a key aspect of our personal identities. Memory Moments are similar to those “Kodak® Moments” we see inside theme parks, except we use our brain instead of a camera to capture snapshots of our lives.
For me, every day of my life is like a series of these Memory Moments. A single day is not just twenty-four hours of time; it’s a collection of little stories that I unconsciously make note of and file away for future reference. I love stories and I’m such a visual person that my brain seems to hold onto memories as short movies of my life that it allows me to play-back at will inside my head. All I need do is recall the correct reel to locate a memory.
While I know there’s no guarantee my memories won’t fade, or simply be lost to time, my hope is I’ll always be able to recall those many cherished memories and continue to create new ones as I get older. I’d like to believe that my brain is hedging its bets against future losses based on the sheer volume of memories it allows me to recall now. There’s memory safety in these numbers. At least, this is what I tell myself.
Most of us live our lives in the blur of time that occurs between the memories of our life events. For better or worse, nearly every day of my life becomes a life event that’s captured in living Technicolor® and stored for future showings.
My life has very little of the blur.
I prefer it this way.
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It’s A Process features the personal essays of Dave Harkins, who endeavors to make sense of the chaos around him through the thoughtful telling of life stories in what he hopes to be an engaging and sometimes humorous manner. Don’t count too much on the latter, though. Except where noted, the photos used on this site are © David L. Harkins.