Wednesday, September 26, 2018

My Muddled Memory

I walked into my bedroom, paused and went into the bathroom. Completing my business I returned to the kitchen. Then I realized the reason I went into the bedroom – the humming of the dryer reminded me about the laundry. I went to fetch another load for the washing machine.

I crawl into bed and then remember – I was supposed to call a friend about an event the next day, assuring her I would pick her up. I forgot to call her. Would I remember to pick her up? Is she worried I forgot?

I receive a voice mail while at exercise class. After class I listen to it, drive home…and forget to return the call. 

These are not uncommon occurrences as one moves into seniorhood.

The news media this week obsessed over conflicting stories about events that occurred 35 years ago. I honestly do not know if I would remember a party attended 35 years ago. More than 35 years ago, in high school and college, I went to parties, but specific ones do not stick out in my mind. They would if a bad thing – like an assault – happened to me or a friend, but most occasions did not make a lasting impression. The events may lodge somewhere in my memory lobes, but the particulars would have to be prodded and pushed out. I understand how people not involved in an incident would not remember an individual who may – or may not – have been there, if they remember the occasion at all.

I do not have a keen memory. My mother-in-law was amazing – names, dates, specific events could be recalled in a nanosecond. For me, events do not immediately come to mind. If someone prompts my memory with their recollections I may recall the episode. But often my mind draws a blank. My rmemories are a creamy toast-colored soup – mushy, mixed up, opaque. 

Over time if we do not forget events completely our mind alters them, especially situations that made us unhappy, embarrassed, caused pain. It is a coping mechanism our brain uses to keep sane and moving forward. We want to learn from our mistakes, but not dwell on them.

Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory. 
-      Albert Schweitzer
I am especially poor at summoning names, always was. Living in one town for over 30 years the issue did not cause many problems. Seeing the same people over and over, I would eventually remember names. Then I moved to a new locale and view innumerable new faces. I am introduced to an individual, and meeting again, cannot immediately recall the person’s name. Sometimes minutes or hours later the name jumps into my mind, but too late.

I am glad I never had to appear before a panel and be questioned about a specific occasion, whether long ago or recently. My fuzzy flashbacks would probably be misinterpreted as purposeful vagueness, the panel wondering, What is she hiding? What doesn’t she want us to know? She must be guilty of something...

The only thing I would be guilty of is a lousy and possibly erroneous memory. My response to the interrogation might proceed something like this:

Where was the party? Are you sure? Wait…was that the Valentine’s Day or Christmas bash…I don’t think I was around for the Christmas party. Is that the year my family went away?...You say I was wearing a yellow dress. I doubt it was me. I don’t look good in yellow. Never did. Don’t think I ever owned a yellow dress. I would probably wear pants, not a dress…Who said I was there? Doubt it again. He was one of the in-crowd. I never was. I wouldn’t have been at the same party as the cool kids, the jocks and cheerleaders, in high school. Definitely have the wrong person…

I've a grand memory for forgetting.
Robert Louis Stevenson


9 comments:

  1. Well, regarding the current controversy, people just believe what they want to believe and disregard the rest. I think George Bush, who ironically was for the most part remarkably inarticulate, said it best: When I was young and stupid ... I was young and stupid.

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    1. Most of us were young and stupid at some point in our lives, but we admit it.

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  2. Ain't it the truth! I remember some things perfectly, or think I do. Memory does change over time, but traumatic events, not so much. Your Schweitzer quote resonates with me! :-)

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    1. Memory is a quirky thing. I sometimes think our mind plays games with us...

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  3. I just do not think that we cannot find a better and less controversial nominee. His weeping and anger revealed far more than anything else in this job interview.

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    1. I agree with you. The weeping and anger would most likely immediately disqualify a woman.

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  4. I have no memory. lol I had a lot of bad things happen in my youth and after my divorce but I can't even name the people involved. I have two different friends that could fill me in though.

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    1. And our memory gets murkier as we get older. Maybe that is a good thing.

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  5. Too bad Marilu Henner wasn't at the party. It's a sad day for America.

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