Memory: fallible?

memories clockIt is funny the things we remember and the things we don’t. A while back I went to a conference about how we remember things. The speaker, from Emory University, has been doing a study on how accurate our memories are. The study is more complex than just that but this is a big part of it.

They got information from people following a major life event right after it happened and then again a year later. It was amazing how different the accounts were. We can also believe that we have a memory of something that we actually didn’t experience. If we have heard about the event often enough we incorporate it as a memory.

On the opposite side we forget so many things. I have had people come up to me and tell me a whole incident where I helped them in some way and not only do I not remember the event but I don’t remember them. Our memory is a very chancy thing. It is not as accurate as we think.

However, there are some memories, that we will never ever forget. Those are the ones that are so important to us. I will never forget my marriage or the birth of my children. There are other memories that bring me joy and comfort. I am glad I have those.

What happened?

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In my youth I envisioned the future as a wonderful place, Peace, flying cars, visiting space. That idea is gone. Have the changes made a better world or one more frightening, more dangerous, more ominous? My memories make it seem that way. When will we ever learn what really matters?

 

 

 

What Happened?

My past is a dream
A memory
A life of summer days
Poodle skirts
Bobby socks

We did
Hide under desks
With fear of A bomb
And built
Air raid shelters

That did not
Dim our hope
Our dreams
Of a better world
Free from fear

what happenedTime moved on
Electronics, VHS, DVD’s
Computers, internet
Instant everything
A better world?

Strange
My memory world
Seems happier
Less fearful
More hopeful

The better world
Vision lost
More war
More sickness
More hatred

What happened?

Memories and wondering

Today has been hard. The isolation has finally hit us both. My husband really wanted to go out for lunch but not possible.

Pearl Harbor: Three films - HistoryExtraYesterday I talked about living (as a child) through WW2. My husband’s experience was much more noteworthy than mine. He was four years old living in Hawaii behind Diamond head in army quarters when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He remembers waking to lots of planes flying overhead. He got up and told his father who told him it was people training and go back to bed. A few moments later his father was called about the bombing. His father was in charge of the Coast Artillery that was actually in the volcano.

Inside Diamond Head - Hawaii PicturesMy husband, his mother and sister, lived in a bomb shelter in the yard that day expecting the bombers to come back. Later they moved into the volcano and stayed there for several weeks before being evacuated to the states. The ship that took them to the west coast went back for more people but was bombed and sank before getting there.

His memories are much scarier than mine and clearer. After all, being bombed is enough to sit in the memory for quite a while. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live where that is a threat every day.

This crisis is bad. It is testing our will just as WW2 did. I hope that we can pull together as we did then to get past this enemy. I hope it will unite much of the world to the real threat….the distress of the environment which may be why these viruses are gaining hold. I don’t know that… I just wonder.

Adam Grant | Wondering Q&A

Life as we know it

Not everything can be fixed « unpack the ratAs a nurse there is one thing that I have learned well….not everything can be fixed. Often people grow up with the idea that there is nothing that can’t be solved in some way. Working in the hospital it is evident that things go wrong, people die, life is not perfect.

We live in a world where we expect everything to be fixed. Get a headache take a pill. Go to the doctor..get a diagnosis..get fixed. We don’t want to wait for anything. We want everything to be done at once.

Because of that this time is a real eye opener for some. I can’t go to the store and expect to find everything I need. I can’t hop in my car and go out to a restaurant. Everything I want is not available. What a shock.

Rationing in the United States - WikipediaI was born a year before Pearl Harbor. I don’t remember much about the war as I was very young but I do remember rationing. You couldn’t get everything you wanted. Gas was limited so you couldn’t go where you wanted all the time. We mostly stayed home. My father was working on the pentagon (construction contractor) and was exempt from going to war. This grieved him and he tried several times to go but to no avail.

My parents built a house shortly before the war began. They had extra rooms and took in war wives whose husband were overseas. They lived with us throughout the war. That was the environment I grew in. We were comfortable but certainly weren’t able to choose the life we wanted to live. I was blessed with a sense of extended family and lots of love but we lived in frightening times. Even as a small child I could sense that angst.

This time reminds me of those days. Something from my distant memory pulls feelings from the past. Those feelings are attached to the way things are now. Just like that time we can’t fix it. We just have to wait it out and live with whatever comes afterward.

Remember…patience, patience and waiting. It can’t be fixed but it can be endured and lived beyond.

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
― Julian of Norwich

The elusive memory

The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves, they find their own order…the continuous thread of revelation.  Eudora Welty

Our lives move forward on a continuum. Events happen every day. Some events are memorable and some are not. I have always found it interesting the things we have stored away and can recall and the things we can’t. Our memories are selective. Our brains store information….probably everything we ever did but most of it cannot be recalled.

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I have been asked about my earliest memory. I have a memory but it is not really clear. I am standing in a crib in my mother and father’s room. That is all there is. There is no context…nothing more than that. I don’t know why I have that memory. It seems to have no significance but there it is.

Image result for memoryOf course we remember traumatic events or days of special happiness but we don’t always remember the specifics and our memories will usually not match those of others who were there.

It is also interesting how memories can be triggered by other senses. A certain smell can cause recall. I grew up in Virginia and my family had large privet hedges around the back yard. When I smell privet it brings back memories of that place.

Music can remind us of a particular time that we heard it. We also experience the feelings associated with those memories. This can be a good thing but in the case of persons who have had a trauma it can bring it all back full force. That is what happens to those with PTSD. The memory comes with all the feelings of fear and horror.

Image result for memory recall

How our brain keeps memories and which ones come to light is not fully known but more is learned each day.

 

 

 

Lasting Memories

My husband loves Christmas. He can’t wait until the tree is up and the decorations out. He bought the tree while I was in the hospital but had it delivered after I came home. It is now up and decorated. (which he did) I am good but still some tired.

remember when.jpg

I managed to get enough energy to do some of the other decorations and things look pretty nice. We have pared down some over the years and don’t over do.

If we strictly followed our church’s thought we would not put up decorations until Christmas Eve and keep them up for the 12 days of Christmas ending on Epiphany. When I was a child my father and I would walk into the woods and cut a tree on Christmas Eve. That was such an exciting time for me. Just spending time with my father doing something special was enough. I remember it with such fond memories.

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I hope we were able to give those kind of memories to our own children. These are things that can’t be duplicated. Expensive gifts are nothing compared to time spent with parents. It is so wonderful when we spend time with our own children playing, what I call, “remember when….the time the dog opened most of the presents under the tree during the night??” Those are the things that last.

Spend on memories not things. The memories last.

Living in Panama

I ran across this quote recently and it brought up some memories.

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.   

L. M. Montgomery

ft gulick
This looks like our house. It is a duplex.

For a while we lived in Panama. It was June there all year round. The only changes were the difference between the we season and the dry season. There was very little difference in temperature. We lived in military housing that was built many years ago of concrete. The buildings were raised up on concrete posts so that the main floor was on the second floor. I am assuming they did this to get it away from the many creatures that lived there. There was a maid’s room on the ground floor. ( didn’t have a full time maid) and underneath the house is where we hung our clothes to dry. (I’m sure no one remembers doing that) During the rainy season the clothes didn’t dry for days so that is when we first bought a dryer.

The houses had louvered windows and screens. Most of the people who lived there put plastic over the windows, heavy draperies and installed window air conditioners. That worked pretty well. The only problem was that since the wall were concrete you couldn’t hang pictures except with stick-on picture hangers. (not the good ones we have today) The power went out frequently and if it was out for long the walls began to sweat and all the pictures fell off the walls.

I will write some more about this adventure later but I do want to say that I grew tired of wearing the same clothes all year around. I am afraid I like at least some semblance of season change.

Anamnesis — Remembrance

Today was All Saints Sunday. Brought forward from the actual day which was November 1st. All Saints is a day of remembrance in the church.

Remembrance..a word that brings forth things gone. I have long felt that those who have gone on before us are still with us. Not as ghosts or some kind of spirit but as memories. I feel that as we think about those in the past we connect with them and they still live in us. We are a part of all that has gone before. Some old Biblical translations used the word anamnesis. Later it was changed to remembrance but I think the earlier word is closer to the original meaning.

an·am·ne·sis
noun
the remembering of things from a supposed previous existence (often used with reference to Platonic philosophy).

remembering

I still feel the presence of my mother, father and other family members. Their love and caring continue on. As do the lives of those who are in my past and whose lives brought mine about.

Memories and emotions

Where families are involved life can treacherous. Sometimes the most innocent remark can be twisted into a major conflict. I suspect this is because there is history and much emotion involved. Often the negative reaction has nothing to do with what is going on at the moment. It is rooted somewhere in the past where the emotions are stuck.

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I have never forgotten that our emotions are tied to so many things. A piece of music from our past can have us experiencing the emotions we felt at the time. These past connections can emerge at the worst moments and skew our perception of the current experience.

Many of us have been taken straight back to our past feelings by a song, a scent, a person, or a scene. We don’t realize what is happening and our responses are not appropriate to the moment. This is doubly true for those we spent a lot of time with growing up. We are creations of our environment as well as our genes.

family breakup

It takes real strength to look inside and connect with the past so that we can disconnect ourselves from it. Most of us don’t want to relive the negative things that formed out emotional responses. It make take talking with a counselor to root out those emotions and at least understand them. Hopefully doing so will allow us to reconnect with those we have turned away from. Maybe not. Some we may not want to but there can be some that can heal connections that will change our hearts.