Mind Tornado- On Memories, Reality, and their intangibility.
A scientific mind’s turmoil trying to quantify the abstract
I wrote this in a fit of what I describe as my mind tornado- a wave of built-up thoughts flying around without order and begging to be written down. And I finally did.
I get very melancholy. When I remember good times I wonder if I am sad that they are gone or if I should be happy with the perfect memory of them. I am not wanting to live in the past, so I don’t feel that that is what disturbs me. It is the intangibility of memory that scares me and also consoles me. I am scared of forgetting key points in a good memory. Memories will evolve, and different variables will the decide what is kept. The main feelings of the memory may decide which points are remembered. Or we may decide to coauthor the changing memory and elaborate only the good. The fluidity of memories means that they may be shaped consciously or unconsciously. Is that a bad thing? Does it make the farther from reality? What if we manipulate our memory and then forget (the memory of) changing the memory?
If two people can’t remember a good time they shared together, does it matter that it happened? If all the evidence is gone. Even if their feelings of enjoyment were really felt, it was only real within those people. It was never objective truth. Reality cannot be defined – it is only our interpretation. So maybe there really is no worry, a distorted memory is no farther from reality than the experience was when it happened.
When a memory is triggered, it terrifies me. If I suddenly remember a good time or another component of a good memory I already possessed, it means that memory was close to slipping away permanently. It means there are many other memories that I have lost already, or that are close to being lost. I’ve been getting so many flickers of old memories in the past months, and I’m unsure if they are brain farts (like déjà vu) or forgotten memories trying to pop through. And then once I experience whatever triggered the memory, I can’t tell if that experience is in the recent past or the far past. The feeling of familiarity that I now have to it distorts any chance I had of differentiating. And the more I think about it the more ingrained it gets, ruining any possibility of differentiating / figuring it out.
I believe in nurture strongly. If we shaped by our experiences, what does it imply if we forget most of our past? If we can’t remember these experiences then we can’t know who we are. We don’t know the conditioning we’ve been through. We can’t identify our biases from pure truths.
I would be happy to be able to watch my memories like movies. So I can experience the feelings again. I should be happy with that- that’s why people watch movies, not to live it but to enjoy the feelings it brings. And in that case, who says it has to be real? Just enjoy it. If it involves another person, their non-distorted version will be different to mine anyway- because reality is not objective.
But I should get rid of this need to remember every single moment of a good time to justify to myself that it happened. I always feel that unless I have proof, I can’t really believe that I had an amazing time the whole time. I can’t be satisfied thinking “that was an amazing week where I deepened relationships, impressed people, and laughed a lot” because I don’t trust myself. I want the dialogue. Can other people remember specific dialogue proof? I doubt it. But I want to. Sometimes I try to by writing it down, and that really helps as consolation. But I don’t know why I need to.
Maybe because I know that minor good bits and bad bits slip from memory. So I know that an amazing week really contained many ups and downs. And I feel I need to remember every single one in order to be able to compile them and decide if it was overall a good or bad time. But the silly thing is, if I remember it as a good week, then the overwhelming feeling was positive, and obviously the good outweighed the bad. So I need to trust that the accounting has already been done. This is ridiculous- no accounting or proof even needs to be done! If I remember it as a good week why do I need to know if it truly was or not far in the future!? Even if it wasn’t, wouldn’t I rather kid myself into having naively happy memories.
Science says that the first year of a baby’s life shapes it’s personality. Similar to success by 6. But the baby cannot remember those experiences. Yet these forgotten experiences have a lasting effect. So maybe losing memories is not a bad thing. The positive emotions and hormones that flow through us at the time DO change us in the future. It is not holding on to the memory that will make us happy. A memory gone is not a loss, not at all. Maybe there is nothing to fear