How much do you trust your memories?
Think about it, and be honest with yourself.
Now. How does that saying go again, Rols? Every memory is only as accurate as the last time you thought about it?
Ahh yep, that’s right. Heavy idea. So hold on, let’s just get it straight for a second.
Of our own memories, we can place our trust in just one solitary hypothesis about them all: that every memory in your mind has already been modified beyond what actually happened, depending on what other ideas and memories were already in your mind, and every memory will continue to change more over time, in accordance with what else happens…?
Yeah rightio mate, cool. Cheers for that. What a bummer!
I mean, yes, that’s an awesome adaptation for our emotional stability over time, for sure. But the guarantee that every single memory we generate will become distorted over time? That seems worth more conceptual attention than I think I’ve been giving it.
I suppose I haven’t been thinking much about memory until now. A breakup will do that to you though, hey. Nothing like a separation, amicable or acrimonious, to start ferociously catapulting you backwards and forwards through time like a fucking yoyo!
Oh, you’ve recently become single? Autopilot has reactivated the control module, welcome passenger! Buckle up and feel free to sit back, enjoy rocketing around the universe at a gajillion miles an hour, anywhere, everywhere but the present, like it or not! For at least a good bit. Maybe a bit longer still. Lock in fella, it’s all you. Try not to hate the ride.
Eventually, of course, after the initial freefall the swinging to and fro gets slower, passing back through the here and now for slightly longer each time, until you finally settle in again to start bloody well getting on with life again.
I got dumped by a chick on my birthday once. I’ll get through this.
(He says, forgetting about the inevitable memory corruption carousel nightmare). Yep, it’ll all be ok, I know how to be honest with myself, I feel fine, let’s have a crack at moving on. (But Rols… memories. You know?)
I suppose I can’t really do anything about them flitting in and out of my mind, can I? Ok then, well, if I have to have memories… good ones only, please. Please? Ahh, yep, there, that’s a nice memory. Mmmmm, soothing memory, soothing, soothing, self-soothing… **sudden eruption of bad memories** ohhh fuck fuck fuck don’t wanna think about this, go back to the soothing one! What about life before that person existed in my life?! What about before we met when I was on top of things, right? Right?? Good memories only please… good memories only please please please… and… yes!!! Ahhhh, big breath. Good memories only please and thank you. Yes, that’s right, yep, I was doing good. More good memories, oh yes more please, nice, yep I wasn’t just on top of things, I’m pretty sure I was killing it, wasn’t I? More good memories please… yep, awesome, I was- **subsequent eruption of bad memories** NOPE. NO THANKS, NUP GOOD MEMORIES ONLY PLEASE let’s-push-those-ones-back-downnnnnnnnn… gahhhhhhh… there it goes, phew. That was close. Now, back to the good memories, good memories only please… oh that’s right, here we go. Ah ha! We’re sweet. We got this.
Again and again and again until there are no more eruptions.
We accidentally purposely lock ourselves into the whirlpool! Here I present to myself – to all – the selectively awesome experiences I’m consciously and subconsciously committing to as the periodic reimagining of my past, in order to define myself from here on into the future.
I mean what a brutal journey to accompany our existence here right until the veritable end, vegetative or sudden. Yet another ingeniously oxymoronic rule of human being homo sapien.
You will develop memories about every single experience you have, and assign major variations of significance to your future self, but you categorically will not remember them with perfect accuracy or objectivity, in any time or instance. Signed, God.
Well, as I right now feel intimately acquainted with, splitting up with somebody is guaranteed to feature a most condensed and brutal observation of this phenomenon.
Trying to monitor and moderate your everyday countenance with all these half-baked memories, inebriated with ego, dripping in and out of focus like a leaky tap hanging off the front of your brain? Complete fucken rollercoaster mate. Every time, no matter what, no matter how many prior lessons you thought you’d learnt about love. The frantic ups and downs of every.single.day weaving perfect headspace booby trap after perfect headspace booby trap, one after the other and again after the next, and on and on it goes. The memory flood exhales, cascading. Casually and ruthlessly tossing your equilibrium about from euphoric to hysterical in a flash.
Until suddenly… it’s stopped. Or, it seems to have. No more eruptions, and in fact, that dangerously leaky tap has actually slowed right down to intermittent droplets anyway. But wait, what? When did that happen? And how?
Seriously? I thought that tap had the special council thingy and we couldn’t turn it down, even though we were trying so hard. Plus there was that voice in my head that I was hearing not long ago, saying it was the end of the world.
So it’s not the end of the world? Amazing! But seriously, how?
Ohhh shit. The memory thing. The memory made it all better again, huh. Ok… right then. Well, good, I guess.
But is it though? I’m actually not too sure how to feel about it now that you and I have fleshed it out properly. It’s definitely great that the world doesn’t actually end in our times of desperation, and we get to carry on doing life and having fun and everything. But at the expense of losing all faith in any objectivity that our recall is attempting to convince us about what actually happened? Guaranteed invisibility of historical reality?
Fuck dude. There are lots of crazy deals going in this casino of human life on Earth but that’s a whopper.
Only in writing these words as a finally-comfortably-single bloke again am I realising hitherto my muted ambivalence about how eternally complicated any memory truly is. Not in the way that I haven’t acknowledged memory as a complicated concept to explore, but in how little I’ve considered my own memories as major contributors to my cognitive survival yet at the same time doomed for ultimate self-corruption.
Maybe I’m alone in all this musing, but like we say, there’s nothing like a breakup to help you think some thoughts.
And maybe that’s the point anyway. Perhaps memory is only supposed to serve us if we ignore it. Leave it alone to cast our future from the background, silently machining away at our mental health, polishing our lasting thoughts and feelings about our experiences as a human in the world thus far so that we can carry on doing it without the constant punishment of truth.
All in all? For me, another insane ride at the theme park of love. No idea how I got myself in or out of the gates but I’m sure I’ll find myself back in there someday or another. Wonder what it’ll look like next time I visit. Wonder what I’ll forget to remember then too.
I beg your pardon? Oh, the future? Easy. Good memories only.