COLUMNS Word & Wisdom

Memory… of the Way We Used to Be

“THE PURPOSE OF MEMORY is not to remember accurately – it is to envision and plan the future.”  This quote is from “Bozo Sapiens- (Why to Err is Human)” and also states on the next page, that we should not fear the loss of memory, but the loss of its purpose – which is to engage in new experiences. We need, according to this book, we need to put ourselves in new situations, ones where new responses are required. Travel, new people, volunteering – all are suggested to keep our memory cells purposeful and exercised.

In short – try those things that will force you to respond creatively. We all knew that on some level, didn’t we?
As I write this, I write as if you, the reader, and all the other readers, have similar mindsets as me. I assume we share some common ground. I assume we share a certain collective sensibility.

Memory is two-fold: Collective and personal.  As a citizen of the U.S. we have a shared history. As a resident of Manzanita, certain events from the past are part of  our Manzanita memory  bank. And then, there is the personal. The stuff that differentiates me from the next person, you  from the crowd. The moments from childhood that signal the end of life as you knew it are yours alone. The moment you knew you were heading towards divorce is probably specific and unique. Our memories are selective.  So over time, certain memories get simplified and smoothed over,  like  pebbles in a stream.
We hang onto our memories as if we ARE our memories. We worry about losing our memories, especially as we age.  Our memories are formed imperfectly and our memories are selective. Siblings will argue over the details of any one event and have vastly different memories of the same event.

We live a fine line between being “one of the crowd” and a “nice-enough oddball.”Its the tension between wanting to be known and loved and the other – not really a part of the immediate society. We fear being alone and we fear standing out in a crowd. Memories remind us of who we are, or rather, who we think we are.

New experiences, people.  New experiences will continue to redefine the you that is the personal you.  Get out there and do stuff. Try things. Be silly. Be brave. Be you.

Your memory bank will thank you one day.

By Tobi Nason

Tobi is a Manzanita counselor.