Perfect recall

Everyone (well, perhaps not quite everyone) remarks on my memory.  It seems to work like a sponge.  It perhaps leaks a little and the memories become a bit jumbled, but on the whole it works well.

Today’s prompt requires me to delve into it.  Good memories include happy holidays and days’ out, precious moments (when events occurred unexpectedly and led to a sense that someone had been “sent”), art, music or natural beauty enjoyed, lectures by acclaimed scientists, time spent with family and friends.

Memory is a strange thing.  Two people recalling the same event will often remember it differently.  Their disagreements may be significant.  How memory works is unclear (at least to me).  We are supposed to have a long-term memory and a short term memory.  Somehow the short-term memory looks after such questions as where we last saw our keys, our shopping list or whatever.  Our long-term memory (in theory) stores information for a life-time.

I mostly think about recent memories.  The day out I enjoyed last week, a chance encounter yesterday evening, which will hopefully lead to an item of school uniform being reunited with its owner, encouraging interactions over the internet are fresh in my mind.  I am thankful for them.

Memories from longer ago need to be prompted.  Although I am writing my memoirs (rather more slowly than I intended) I do not spend much time thinking about what has happened in the past.  Certain events stand out from others.  When I have allowed a particular memory to rise to the top of the stack it seems to remain there until something else becomes more relevant and displaces it.

Recently having our bathroom carpet laid and watching a very seriously ill friend lovingly paint her son’s house have surfaced in my memory.  It is important to remember what has happened in the past.  Presumably the prompt is a reference to Memorial Day in the United States.  In the UK we have Remembrance Day in November.

I like my memories to be accurate.  My hand-written journal is only updated every few days.  Sometimes I cannot remember exactly what I did the week before last.  It can be helpful to be able to look back and see when certain events occurred.

Certain moments seem to be etched in my memory for ever.  Others have gone.  The lasting ones are from times, when I perhaps experienced something more deeply or observed something which seemed important.  There are some moments from decades ago I can visualise as clearly as if they happened yesterday.

Look back and give thanks; look forward and take courage.

was written in my autograph book by a teacher about half a century ago.

Do I really have to choose between recent and older good memories?  Can I not just look back and give thanks?

Memory on the Menu

Which good memories are better — the recent and vivid ones, or those that time has covered in a sweet haze?


8 thoughts on “Perfect recall

  1. Be grateful you have a good memory! What a gift. I too write in a journal. I have for the past ten years. Its amazing what you will forget if you wont write it down- And so many memories/thoughts are worth remembering.


  2. Pingback: Daily prompt – Memory | The Wandering Poet

  3. This topic is dear to my heart and the reason why I started my memoir blog. Memories are very selective and it’s funny to see what each family member remembers about the past. I’ve always prided myself on my memory from the day when I was about 5 and my mother told me I had a memory like an elephant. That bit of positive reinforcement encouraged me to remember things better and I think was very helpful in school as I had very good recall for facts and other necessary information that allowed me to perform well on tests.

    Memory is a funny thing sometimes. It can be deceptive as well. These days my short term memory doesn’t seem as good as i would like it to be and yet I can remember tiny details from years ago.

    Wrote By Rote


    • I regard a good memory as an asset and attempted to help my children develop their memories. The experience of older people remembering things from the past more clearly than recent events is well-known. I wonder whether part of it is reinforcement of early memories by repeating them or whether it is more to do with the decrease in the number of brain cells which is alleged to occur as we age. Sue


      • I tend to believe that it is the replaying of the memories that reinforces the older memories. That’s why I called my memoir blog Wrote By Rote

        Tossing It Out


  4. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Memory On The Menu | Understanding and Embracing Diversity

  5. I have to chime in here as well and agree. Memories are so precious and so many things are lost person-to-person through the years for a variety of reasons. At this point in my life it seems I’m the one wanting to get everything “saved” in one form or another (be it digitizing photos and videos, joining my writing club to get my own memories down on paper, or just talking with people and learning as much as I can and incorporating that into my own life. Memory is a good thing, new or old, either way, if you’re trying to retain them or gather more, it’s a growing experience either way!


    • Yes, we each have a story to tell. There is the advice that we should learn from other people’s mistakes, because life is too short to make them all ourselves! Best wishes fro your projects. Sue


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