Memories

We all have our time machines.
Some take us back, they are called memories.
Some take us forward, they are called dreams.

Memory. What is memory? I thought the question was easy, but not in our world of rapidly advancing technology. In many ways a human memory has been overpowered by electronic devices.

According to the dictionary, memory is the ability of the mind, a person or organism to retain learned information and knowledge of past events and experiences, and to retrieve that information and knowledge.
The memory in a computer is the area of storage that maintains information for instant retrieval and processing. Maybe someday we will be able to add memory to humans, like we can now add memory to computers. I’ll be the first in line to accept more memory!

The concept of memory foam comes from its ability to return to its original shape after being subject to alteration. Some materials such as plastics and metals can return to their original shape too.

These comparisons are interesting, but let’s get back to the most important discussion, that of human memory. At present, I am looking at each and every document in my four drawer metal filing cabinet in order to purge papers no longer needed. This has provided quite a trip down memory lane. Seven years ago, I shredded what seemed to be all the unnecessary papers. When reviewing those files this week, I’m sure I played it very safe back then, just in case some proof of something would be needed.

Two of the filing cabinet drawers are broken, so it’s time to consolidate, purge and move on. This time it was easier to look at memories with a less emotional reaction. Aging makes it more difficult to remember details of people, names and events from the past. Aging also takes the powerful impact out of emotionalism from long past situations. After mentally replaying traumas of marriage, divorce, death, illnesses and more, year after year, the impact diminishes.

The biological effects of aging causes a lessoning of the small details available for recall. Young people make fun of “that old man or old woman who can’t remember names.” It’s not funny. It is extremely frustrating! Someday they will understand.

On the rewarding side of the issue is the fact that not remembering can be fantastic! I don’t remember the image or the name of my 5th grade teacher who smacked my right hand with a ruler every time she saw me writing the letter “a ” without closing the top of the letter. Now the schools are considering not teaching handwriting due to the acceptance of computer products in the classrooms.

Overload! The real problem comes from trying to overload the brain with too much information. I equate the process to stuffing the washer with too much clothing. The machine fights to wash the clothes, but finally gets clogged up, then gets stuck. Ease the load by reducing the number of items, to allow the washer to work again.

The same process works for me. Sometimes I can’t think at top performance level until I realize tiredness has gripped me or stress has taken over. Once I lighten the load, and take the time to rest, I can function again. This process gives me the tools to strive to be the best that I can be.

The one charm of the past is that it is in the past. ~ Oscar Wilde