I Remember It Well


Memory is a strange and fickle thing. Not a physical thing, more a transient concept. How long is a memory? For that matter how short is a memory? As long or short as it is remembered and before it is forgotten. A curiously constructed phrase. I don't recall ever having written down anything so odd before. Perhaps I have done. Just forgotten it. This is rather like the question of how long is a piece of string? I remember reading somewhere many years ago that it is exactly twice the length of the middle to one end. Smart? Clever? Not in the accurate meaning of the terms. Most things I do remember. Nearly everything, in fact. But this is only from what I have remembered remembering. Or is that not remembering what I have forgotten? What I have forgotten cannot be included since I don't recall it. It is a strange concept this memory effect.

There was a time at school when as a punishment I was required to write two "pages" on the topic of how to turn a tennis ball inside out without cutting it. I have no idea what I wrote except it must have been nonsense although I do remember that I described how it can be done. Impossible? Of course, but I remember that I did do that, though the details escape me! Clever? Smart? Perhaps, though not in the accurate sense of the meaning. See what I mean by smart and clever?

How can I recall what I have forgotten? Not simply failed to remember, but that which has been removed from memory. All traces. It would be unfair to expect that of me. Surely, fairness is only valid if you can remember the rules. What you forget cannot be held against you, can it? The problem is to determine if you have really forgotten something that you are supposed to know. Who says you should know it when you have stated that you have forgotten it? There is a concept called 'registration'. If you never knew something then you cannot forget it, can you? That makes absolute sense, yet the impression can be that there is still something defective. No. Nothing wrong at all. Simply never noticed so there is nothing to remember or forget. Like putting keys or spectacles down. If these items or such like them are put down without noticing, then they are not misplaced. They have never been lost though you may still have no idea where they are. Bizarre? Absolutely, though quite reasonable, I think.

Going back to one of my earliest recollections. An early sense of awareness. My first day at school when I was about 4 years old. This still has strong imagery for me and is very vivid in my imagination to this day. I can still see the winding slope through the gates as I entered this place. I had no fear though I don't remember excitement either. The memories come flooding back of the next 45 years, but if all these memories were really remembered then I would have to be twice the age that I am to relive it all. So, I either only remember triggers that activate the sense of memory or I must be highly selective about what I choose to remember and by definition what I choose to forget. It is like a dream where only fragments can be remembered. As I think over my memories I am not being in the present, but living in those distant memories in the past so the present is not being registered and can never be remembered.

I am not confused, but memory is very strange.

© Louis Brothnias (2005)

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