Updated: May 23, 2021
Time heals. But don’t we look back at every single damn thing we have ever done in our life.
Yes, we do – no matter what extent of a realist someone is. Reality is like gooseberries, sometimes bloody hard to accept, but sweeter as you realize the fact that everything happens for the good. Be it the bad or the worse or the worst in the present, you ll someday in the future feel the reason to it, adding some pinch of learning to your life.
Life necessarily doesn’t always run on factual stuff, most of it around us is so random that day by day, it gets messy and complicated beyond what one could unroll and look into. Yet, being able to look back and enjoy the little moments of happiness is a true blessing, not just for me as an individual but for each of us, because its humane to cherish memories. Beyond these memories, are moments of thunder as I always call it, that strikes me again and again – sometimes I even skip a beat and no hallucination can ever get me high than that.
I flaunt the way I am, the way I have shaped myself from learnings I have captured from every single living being I have encountered- be it you, the flowers, the greens or even the creatures.
Have you ever thought of why is it that you can remember the name of your childhood best friend that you haven't seen in years yet easily forget the name of a person you just met a moment ago? In general, why are memories decade old stable and concrete than fresh ones fading away. Let's go deep into this.
Memory is so fundamental to human behavior that it revolves around our everyday life. Like millions of average people, I do have vivid and emotional memories of pain and hardships I have gone through, yet when I started processing it with the learnings from my everyday life, I could find clarity that helped me bucket it as just memories and not painful memories.
I sometimes have so-called flashbulb memories of where I was and what I was doing when something significant happened, be it in life or even around in the world. For example, when Tsunami occurred for the first time in Chennai, India, I was sleeping on my bed in my house hardly 5km away from the Marina Beach and everyone else at my house felt the quack.
I have been following Nader, a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal, and his papers. His ideas are very unconventional within neuroscience, he doesn't go by the books or the traditions, with experiences from personal life as well as from results of experiments he ran, he brings in clarity to thoughts and has caused researchers to reconsider some of their most basic assumptions about how memory works. Nader believes that the very act of remembering can change our memories.
Rather than filing up all the compartmental space in our head, it turns out from various studies that memory is an exquisite illusion, something which is partially in our control and partially not and it shapes our sense of self.
Keeping aside the physical/materialistic specimens of the times we have had in our cupboards and on our body, our recollections are the only links that connects us to every other form of ourself from the past. Without these, every bond we share, every relationship we are a part of, every accomplishment in our lives would mean nothing. I feel memories are the essence of who we are, what we have become, how we think and so on.
Theoretically memory is the faculty by which the brain encodes, stores, and retrieves information. It is a record of experiences for guiding future action. Different parts of the human brain contributes to different aspects of memory. The hippocampus is related to spatial memory, which helps the brain map the surrounding around us while the amygdala is linked to emotional memory.
Memory naturally declines with age, but some people are able to stay mentally sharp. Most of it is sharp genes, but lifestyle choices that we make like exercising regularly, eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, not smoking/drinking, watching body vitals regularly, etc can make a huge difference. Continual learning is a must, hence it is crucial to keep our brains switched ON and active always.
One way I hacked this by making my curious nature put to use, curiosity about things around me, lets me challenge myself at getting better each day. Trying activities, such as learning a language, puzzles, hobbies, volunteering, and other activities have always helped me cope at keeping my memories sane.
To us, every moment of our life from a broad perspective looks precious. We focus on what we do every moment, we overthink about everything around us and tag it to being part of what is existence. But what we cherish as memories and experiences is what makes us who we are.
What is remembered is mostly what we are inclined to, what gives us joy, what aches our heart and the ones with people who matter to us.