Thursday, January 29, 2009


Memory is a pretty trippy thing. I'm not really sure why I remember what I remember or how my brain chooses stuff that is unimportant and dumps it like yesterday's trash. I have had a lot of cause to ponder the issue because I have a classically bad memory and have had since high school. At first I attributed it to all that pot smoking back then (yes, I inhaled, but no I don't smoke it now), but as I have gotten older and have that much more to remember I am still pretty selective about who and what I remember even once I passed my little hippy drama crowd stage.

I have had reason to reconsider this question of late because I got all hooked up on Facebook. My mother made me do it because until recently I didn't see the point. She was all excited because she'd managed to bump into some old acquaintances online and wanted to add me as a friend so I wandered over and lo, there were a lot of people there I hadn't seen or connected with in ages. There were the people from Middle School, the ones from High School, and then, thanks to the mater, the ones from my twenties in England. Holy cow! More alarming, however, was the fact that clearly there were tons of people I just couldn't remember.

And yet I can remember lots of obscure little events. I was listening to some folk music today and I remembered about the time I went to see a band with my friend, Nick, and what he was wearing and who was the lead singer in the band, and their weird little detail of having a member of the band who was into this crazy freestyle dancing in front of the band but no other musical contribution. Why do some details just stand out in your mind and others slip away? I never followed the band. I didn't meet anyone special that night. I also saw a lot of bands and acts and many of them I forgot and others I remembered.

Sometimes I forget good stuff and sometimes it's bad stuff. Some people I have forgotten until I met them again and was forcibly reminded who I was quite close to. It took me five weeks to remember one woman's name who had been quite a buddy for a while when I first moved back to Vermont. What makes something stand out and another thing slip entirely away? I suppose they have done studies on it, but I have never read anything that satisfies me as to the vagaries of my own weird selective memory.


Kelly said...

Maybe you remember things that are richer in textures, scents, colors and patterns? Or maybe you had a specific feeling at that moment that your brain didn't want to let go of? I have always had a really sharp memory, so I am just tossin out suggestions!


Longfellow said...

You might be onto something. Color or visual components might have more impact on me because I'm a visual artist.