Finding Dory

Losing my memory really sucks

I think I have a memory problem. My colleagues and close friends think I am a bit like Dory in Finding Nemo: hopelessly forgetful. However, I am more worried about what things I forget, rather than the fact that I forget random stuff. An example: the other day at 9 am a friend asked me if I could use my super food processor to grind peanuts and obtain homemade peanut butter (additive free) for her, so she brought a bag of shelled peanuts which I carefully put away in my handbag. By 10.30 am I started noticing a bizarre smell, and I started wondering to myself: what is that smell? Peanuts? In the office?? And later, as the smell continued to distract me, I just blurted out: Why does it smell like peanuts??? — Just imagine the faces of my colleagues, sitting right there. -Oh, come on, I cannot believe you are asking that. Look in your handbag! Now! She only gave it to you an hour ago!!

Most surprisingly, I keep forgetting things like that, and at the same time, I can remember -in disconcertingly great detail- random data such as elephants that sleep even less than giraffes, or the whole storyline of a movie that I last watched years ago. The whims of our memory is probably one of the most fascinating fields of study in neuroscience. Selective memory does exist, according to scientists, but often to forget embarrassing moments in our lives; and if we can deliberately forget things… what then is the difference between ‘selective memory’ and simply ‘bad memory’? What if my brain is not trying to protect me from bad memories but instead is deleting random pieces of information? Is stress worsening this?

My siblings also enjoy this sort of memory loss. My brother once bought his favourite ice-cream in the supermarket, then he placed it in his freezer, and a few days later, when contemplating the food in a stressful moment, he discovered the ice cream there, unopened. Wow! My favourite ice cream!! -he shouted. My sister-in-law was shocked: you bought it, my dear, you did, two days ago. I know exactly how he feels, forgetting something he had done a few days before, yet he can remember more than a hundred phone extensions of his colleagues.

My memory sucks, and I have tried everything that has been suggested to improve it with little success. My only comfort is that my memory loss helps me to keep learning, and memory and recall may not be not as poor as I imagine.

“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory,” Albert Schweitzer once said. Maybe the secret to memory loss is just.. Don’t worry about it and keep swimming!