On Memory & Forgetting

I swear this was not the post I was intending to write today. In fact, I had two completely different ideas and themes I wanted to analyze and discuss, but I forgot what they were. Yeah that tends to happen…a lot. In all probability, I will most likely remember both those original thoughts half an hour after I post this blog. Or maybe if I close my eyes and relax, it will come back to me…

DAMMIT! Was really hoping that would actually work. Anyhow, I forget things quite often. I’ll have a random notion pop into my head and unless I talk about it with someone or write it down, it will just as easily evaporate from my mind. It genuinely sucks. I cannot imagine how many story ideas, characters, plot points, etc. I have lost this way. You would think I would have learned my lesson and actually write some of them down, right?

Perhaps there is a reason I didn’t make those random thoughts permanent. Maybe my recollection of them and their potential is far better than what they actually were. Yes those story ideas could have been pretty good, but they also could just as easily been utter garbage. Memory is funny that way.

I wonder how many experiences and possibilities I look fondly on from my past that were really horrendous and vice versa. How has my brain and ego shaped my past to fit a model and path that I unconsciously chose? It seems baffling and weird to think about memory and experience in that way, but it is the most honest analysis of how recollection functions. All of my past is slightly skewed to fit a preconceived model because it is filtered and limited through my perspective.

Which is probably why we forget things in the first place; we need to. In order to grow and evolve as individuals and a society, the ability to forget our pasts is crucial. I cannot imagine who I would be if I was still influenced by the ideas and events I experienced in elementary school. I mean, to be fair, a few (both good and bad) still linger in my head, but those were the highlights and not the full play by play. However, my current opinions, emotions, and thought process are informed by what I learned and felt during college and the few years following, and not by my memories of high school.

Forgetting is good. It frees up space for new experiences and emotions. And it works as a cleanse giving us the opportunity to become different from what we were; maybe better, maybe worse, but still different. When I was younger, the concept of complete voluntary recall seemed like such an awesome idea. Now, it’s nothing more than terrifying. I want to forget about that girl I had a crush on in middle school in order to focus on and make memories with someone new. And while I will still remember that class I failed a few years back, the feelings of despair and anxiety are thankfully in the past.

I most likely won’t remember everything I want to or forget every experience I rather not recall, but that’s how my brain works and so far I am satisfied with the highlights.

So anything you wish you could forget? Or remember? Or maybe you actually want total voluntary recall. Tell me in the comments.

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