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Monday, 8 June 2015

Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.

For those that aren't familiar with it, the title is a quote by Albert Schweitzer. Memory is not a static thing. Memory can be lost, and found and alters over time. I read recently, that when we remember something, we are actually remembering the last time we remembered it, not the event itself, which is why some memories fade and some stay strong, and they often vary over time.

In We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, she talks about a lot about the nature of memory (and it's changing facets). She says "This doesn't mean that the story isn't true, only that I honestly don't know anymore if I really remember it or only remember how to tell it."

She expands on this idea "Language does this to our memories - simplifies, solidifies, codifies, mummifies. An oft-told story is like a photograph in a family album; eventually, it replaces the moment it was meant to capture."

My husband was telling a story from his childhood and his sister asked "Was I there?" (she wasn't) and then pondered "Why do I remember it so clearly then?" It was purely because she'd heard the story so often that her mind had injected her into the picture.

The fluidity of memory is how that terrible trip turns into a fond memory as the repeated telling of the tale for the amusement of others begins to inject the humour of the story on the feelings associated with the event.

Time and memory are true artists; they remould reality nearer to the heart's desire. (John Dewey) and this may be a blessing or a curse.
Have you ever had someone tell your story as their own? Do you find the nature of memory fascinating?

Linking up with #LMMondays 


16 comments:

  1. It's a funny thing- I had a friend who I'd sworn to secrecy over a story then tell me and two others that very story two weeks later, saying we must promise not to tell as she'd been sworn to secrecy. When confronted, she was certain it wasn't me who'd initially told her! Suffice to say, I don't share secrets with her anymore!

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  2. Memory amazes me. Like how I can pluck the answer to something from the depths of my brain that some time along the way it was stored. Memories sometimes can't be trusted but that isn't always a bad thing.

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  3. My earliest memory is from when I was two (over 40 years ago) but I'm not sure it is my actual memory. More a story I'd heard recounted about myself over the years firmly imprinted in the memory banks.

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  4. That is really fascinating! I remember remembering something that happened to my sister happening before it happened (a tongue twister for ya!) when I was a kid! That freaked everyone out but happens to me sometimes. I had no idea about the remembering something from a memory thing, you learn something every day!

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  5. Mum akways tells the story of when I was 5 yes old and twirled off the stage ( dancing career then ended) but I don't recall it however I can see myself on that stage

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  6. Love this and I agree - I think time is meant to soften memories - makes the bad ones less brutal and the good ones more glowing.

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  7. That is so interesting. I am always fascinated by the memories of others who were at the same events as me. My sisters and I often laugh about how different our interpretation of growing up was, and because I often write about it, they just think it's hilarious. Completely different.

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  8. Ha yes! I've had my sister recount a few tales to me over the years only for me to turn around and go "wait, no, that happened to me!". So weird. I've also had memories I was dead-set sure were the real thing, but found out later I was wrong. Poor brain couldn't handle it.

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  9. This is such surreal timing! I was doing the dishes today and I managed to remember - IN IT'S ENTIRETY - some horrible song my bitchy teen-clique wrote about another member of the bitchy teen-clique. I forgot what I did last weekend and yet I can remember in precise detail some stupid little ditty my friends and I used to sing over 20 years ago. Memory is bloody fascinating. And bloody hell, some things I would sooner forget. My friends and I were involved in some nasty shit back in high school, as both the victim and the bully.

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  10. Yes! I find memory absolutely fascinating, particularly how certain smells and songs can trigger a memory. I find it so strange that you can go about your day and all of a sudden a memory from years ago, something that you hadn't thought about for years and sometimes something that wasn't even significant, pops into your head. Does that happen to you? I want to know why and how!!! Most of all though, I worry about my memory. It's not great. I wonder if it's because I have too much going on and I just have no more room in my head to fit it in or whether I'm just old :) #teamIBOT

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  11. yes, i also find my older sister and I have very different memories of things and often disagreed about who owned or did certain things.. I've never really thought about how memories work, very interesting

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  12. This is so true!
    My daughter and I have very different memories of things.
    My husband also has different memories with facts and figures getting bigger (or smaller) as years of telling the same story go on ...

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  13. I like the fluidity of memory- our experiences & our memories have so much to do with our perception & how we felt at the time.

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  14. My memory is a bitch. I remember every Carpenters song but forget important stuff, like school notes and appointments etc. Plus I do this really helpful thing where I ruminate about the past and seem to filter it so it was either all rose-coloured and wonderful or all a disaster. No in-between. Plus I've had several bits of personally shitty news burned into my brain. Yep, it's fun being me. Anyway, great post!

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  15. This is so interesting. I wrote a post along the lines of this about my first memories. Yet I have also considered do I remember the childhood stuff because of photos or having been told the stories. In that post I think I linked to a really interesting study about what kids remember and then forget and it made me realise all those wonderful experiences I was building for my grandkids to recall were going to be lost..because of how our brains grow and change. Thanks for linking up today Lydia. #lifethisweek

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  16. My dad had dementia so I think the memory is definitely an interesting thing. He had no ability to transfer stuff from his short term memory so had no idea what he'd just done....

    I often find that my mother corrects a memory I have and I would swear my version is correct, but I tend to accept her viewpoint as I was usually young at the time!

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