Beautiful memories that light up the cells of your brain and warm you to your toes and make you smile. Or haunting ones that cling where they aren’t wanted and won’t go away. Or memories that aren’t clear or focused and precise enough to make it to consciousness, like a portion of a dream that’s slipping away as you awake, aware of how much you desperately want to hold it close and never let it go.
Memories. Are we not made of them?
What happens to memories when we don’t visit them? How much do they change? How much is altered? What falls away? What gets added?
What happens when you don’t want to face a memory? When you don’t want to remember? When a moment is frozen and keeps repeating itself over and over? What happens when you want to leave that memory in its place, that city, that event, that person, that street, that feeling. Leave it exactly where it is and not take it with you — walk away from it, let it evaporate, let it crumble, let it disintegrate back into the marrow of the universe? What happens to the space inside where it lived? What happens if there is never an occasion to remember a moment that would be a memory save for the lack of necessity to remember?
Who would you be without your memories? How would you make sense of yourself and your world without them?
How easy it is to ask questions about memories. And there are whole fields of science studying memory and asking questions.
But the stuff of memory is the stuff of life and living and doing and being, all of it perfectly imperfect. Memory is said to be essential to who we are, although one could argue that it might be helpful to add a dose of mindful awareness that memory is through filters: it is only a single perspective of an immense reality. And yet, that single perspective rules us in ways we are only beginning to glimpse.
The science of memory, the story of memory that’s emerging is fascinating enough. The art of memory? Our creation of memory? Even better.