I’ve been thinking about how, when looking back at old relationships and experiences, certain memories are set out in relief. I’m not sure that I know when they’re occurring in the original moment that they’ll be the ones riding shotgun with me years, even decades later. Probably not.
The strange thing is how you have no real say-so about which memories will last. Even if I tried to remember whole relationships or events, everything said and done, I know I couldn’t. And moreover, it’s my unconscious mind that largely decides which memories will be saved and mentally re-lived in the future. And which will be jettisoned.
I find this kind of selective memory rehashing to be a by-product of all sorts of relationships, from family to friend to romantic. I would prefer to be able to remember more details, better chronology, and perhaps more of what I said/did – my focus is usually weighted on the other party.
I’d like to know how I’m choosing what to remember, especially when the results seem so haphazard. You’d think you’d remember the important stuff – and sometimes that’s true – but other times it’s random or seemingly inconsequential tidbits that stick around. Of course, ALL the memories must be in there somewhere, if they could only be accessed.
I’m always curious about how other people’s memories function too; everyone seems to have their own shtick and there’s no changing or influencing it. Saying, “How can you remember THAT?!” or “You remembered that wrong” both get little response. Or conversely, what it means if I’m the one sharing a memory, especially one seared into my recollection, with someone who was also part of it, only to have them stare at me blankly, clearly not remembering.
I do see one thing my memories are influenced by, and that’s my own personal changes. I recast specific memories. Not changing or rewriting them, but perhaps seeing them as more ominous or less dramatically, as foreshadowing subsequent events. The connecting-the-dots is more apparent after the fact.
I use this knowledge now. I am much more aware that I am creating memories with my actions and involvements. What kind of memories do I want to have in the future? And I don’t mean this in a greeting card kind of way: “Let’s create beautiful memories (together)!” Rather, a conscious undertaking of acting in such a way as to forge memories that will be good and positive, if I have anything to do with it. So that whatever it is that rises to the surface in those awake-at-3AM moments down the road, will be okay.
People like to say it’s the things not done that create more regret than those done. I am not so certain, not in referencing my own life. What you don’t do, or refuse to do/start, seems equally important. I say this with a chunk of life in the rear view.
What I’m trying to get across, in part, is my cognizance of the importance of memories and my awareness of my hand in creating them. Since I really don’t know which ones will be “set out in relief” in the future, I want to try harder to influence the results. So that my unconscious mind will have no choice but to select from a decent array of options.