Tag Archives: memory

Window

I found myself with some extra time today. I didn’t really like going for walks, but I convinced myself I don’t have anything better to do. Besides, I’ve been working hard and should relax. It was mid-afternoon and the weather was perfect, or at least how I like it. The temperature was warm, with a very high, thin layer of cloud cover that diffused the bright sunlight.

I came upon a park. It was a large grass field with a circular path around it and people from all walks of life. This park just so happened to sit on the top of a large hill. It was called “Reservoir Park,” probably because of the giant water tank fixed maybe 50 feet above the ground, giving life to thousands of houses below.

I started walking counter-clockwise around the park and noticed a familiar looking view. I’d never seen this particular view before, but I recognized it because it looked out over where I grew up. I stopped and stared out at the hill I grew up on. I used to venture into the woods and climb up a tree high enough so I could stare out into the future, unknowingly looking out to where I was standing today, into a mirror with no reflection. I tried to think about everything that’s happened between then and now, all the success, all the heartbreak, everything that’s gotten me to this point so far and changed me from who I was into who I am, but I couldn’t. Nothing came to mind.

From the outside I’d assume that this would be great cause for concern, or should at least worry me in some sense, but I wasn’t even aware that nothing came to mind (funny how minds work). I wasn’t void of memories, but I was remembering, only instead of thoughts coming to mind it was purely feelings coming to heart; the joy, the pain, the love, the longing. I stayed in that moment for quite some time, and after I began to continue my walk I realized I indeed have grown since a child staring out from the tree tops. Never once growing up did I assume I would end up so close to my original home (at least so far). I always had some lofty goal that I would be extremely successful in whatever I did and move far away to somewhere better, some mystical land, wherever that was. But that was before I came out of the woods and went out to live my life. It’s easy to dream when everything looks so open.

Possibly the most important growth that I have experienced is an emotional one. It may seem super simple for some, but I have always been a logical person, using reasoning, knowledge, and whatever else I could prove or validate in order to come to any conclusion. ‘Emotions’ have not been easy for me. I’d get happy and sad like everyone else, but I never got too attached to anything, and would never say, “I’ve got a feeling about this…” Emotions have more or less been a reaction or side effect, so for me a purely emotional response to something is quite amazing, awakening, and somewhat of a miracle. If I can simply look at a view and feel such a wide range and depth of emotions, then that’s amazing. What good are thoughts and circumstances if we don’t feel anything? Every time I asked myself “what do I want to do with my life?” I’ll come up with an answer, and then ask myself, “why?” I’ll do that a few times and it always boils down to something along the lines of “I want to feel happy, feel good, feel loved,” and a big part of that is making others feel loved as well.

I completed my circular walk and looked back across the park to where I stood saw the view, and I couldn’t see it anymore from where I was standing. The trees hid the view from the street, and I noticed if I hadn’t first chosen, logically, to go on this walk, then I would not have ever seen that view, that narrow window into the past. Of course it’s easy to see now, but how many other opportunities like this have I missed? In how many other ways am I still looking out from the trees, waiting to see a reflection?

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Miracle

The human mind is a miracle that can make something more than it actually is. For example, at first a flower is just a flower, but after your mind grabs hold of it it is love, it is life, it is hope–it becomes a memory, still present even after it has wilted and died.

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Speed of Thought

I don’t wanna sound like a wiseguy or anything, and I’m probably not the first to think of this, but I think I figured it out:

I think that how fast time moves is relative to how much you think. Like, the ‘speed of thought.’ Everything is relative (is viewed in a context), and basically you have to filter all of your experiences through your mind in order to even experience them, so from the inside looking out, the whole world is in your mind (“it’s all in your head”). If you’re stumped on a problem or worrying about something, time may pass very slowly whereas if you’re just having fun and just enjoying the moment, or to exaggerate, if you’re sleeping, then time will pass very rapidly. If you dream than you spend more time being asleep. Thinking more slows down time whereas simply reacting skips over time. People have said regarding crazy moments that “it was like slow motion. I never thought it was going to end.” And conversely there exists “driving hypnosis” where you end up at your destination in the blink of an eye because you are so used to taking the same route that you require zero thought to drive it. This line of thought leads to the creation of memories as what allows us to place ourselves in time. Without any memories, there is no time. Babies do not have memories, and thus have no concept of time (and aren’t really much alive yet, like, viva la vida etc…). And they are also really stupid. But on the other end of the spectrum you might have someone with Alzheimer’s who does not have the ability to create new memories, and is, although it’s painfully sad to say, pretty much already dead (from their point of view). So the next time you fall into routine, or order the same thing for lunch, or drive the same way home, or do the same activity with your friends, stop… and think about that. Make a memory.

 

EDIT (3/16/14): I came across this video that has a much more informed position than my generalized curiosities. It’s a fun watch if you have a few minutes, however the title is a bit misleading…

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Memorial

You come home to a house you’ve kept clean for a week solid after spring cleaning, but today you are tired. You drop your stuff on the floor and go to the kitchen to grab some snacks. You’ve worked hard this week. You decide you deserve a treat. You can’t remember the last time you had a milkshake. You scoop out the ice cream, Oreos, chocolate syrup, and some more ice cream, and hold the “blend” button. The blender decides that now is a good time to commit suicide and grind its gears, and not your milkshake, until you hear a pop and see a little wisp of smoke trail away from your newly departed appliance. You now understand the phrase ‘giving up the ghost,’ but you still don’t have a milkshake. You find yourself on the couch minutes later with a long spoon and the top half of the blender in your hand, scraping out the last bites of your milkstir, and realizing that the top half of the blender actually isn’t a bad way to eat a snack. It even has a handle and a spout. Over the next few weeks you keep using the top half of the blender to eat while the bottom half still sits plugged in on your counter top. No, it still doesn’t work. And now you’ve gotten used to it being there that it has just become part of the kitchen counter; a fixture, a statue, a memorial even. A few months later you invite friends over and one of them gets really drunk and asks you why you couldn’t just make margaritas from scratch when the blender is sitting right there. You tell him, “oh, it doesn’t work.” Like it’s supposed to not work. And he just stares at you for a little while because he’s obviously drunk, and nothing is wrong with you, or the blender.

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Goodbye

Two people lived on a small man-made island just off the shore of the mainland. These two residents were not the only people on this island, but they lived alone. The residents were both on a schedule, both lived through their days as a series of habits, and were both looking for love (trust me. I’m an omniscient narrator). They both worked hard and found comfort in a solid routine as the foundation for a ‘good life,’ and thus were both bound by their schedules — “imprisoned” might be a better word.

A unique feature of this island is that it was a perfect circle with a sidewalk that hugged the perimeter. There were twelve equally spaced streets radiating from a where a big clock tower stood in the heart of the town. You could keep track of the time from almost anywhere on the island, as our two residents would frequently do.

You see, even time is man-made. Not the concept of time, but how we choose to restrict ourselves with it. Seconds. Hours. Years — don’t tell me nothing lasts forever. I don’t want to hear it.

Every morning these two residents would wake up at the same time, step onto the same sidewalk, turn right, and walk clockwise until they came back to where they started. Their schedules wove together like two gears — however, they lived on opposite sides of the island and always walked clockwise at the same time. What these two residents didn’t realize, and would never come to realize, is that this ordinary, scheduled walk was so precise, so routine, and so expected, that the absence of anticipation surrounding it drew about as much attention to the walk as you will give to your next breath, which is extraordinary. Extraordinarily dull.

It is still unclear to me, the omniscient narrator, whether the two residents scheduled to walk each morning, or whether they walked because the schedule told them to. Of course, the residents think to be in complete control, and that is why they stick to the schedule — the sense of order and control — but from the outside looking in, it seems as if control was simply an illusion created by the predictability of a clock.

When you do something so much, you don’t even know what you’re missing anymore; you just assume it’s not there.

Our two residents would wake up every day, go on their clockwise walk, and eventually fall asleep in the same bed they woke up in, and repeated this controlled, scheduled, living habit for so many days that the memories of the past years of this routine congealed into one solitary memory. One day, one of the residents noticed they looked older, felt older, and consequently tried to recall how that happened, but could only come to the conclusion that “time flies.” It was at this time, I, the omniscient narrator, decided this resident decided to go for a walk that morning. The same walk as always, but upon this day this resident choose to walk counterclockwise as a gesture of change, as a way to motivate this resident to start breaking the very routine that this resident had resided in for so long.

It was free. It was clear. It was new. Surely memories would be made on this day as the two residents approached each other around the bend of the man-made island. They were destined to meet. As their paths crossed, they greeted each other with a congenial smile accompanied by a neighborly “hello,” and kept on walking down the path without breaking stride, or their respective schedules. A whole history of new possibilities came into existence on that unclockwise walk, and then disappeared as simply as the path on which they walked curved out of sight around the island, and disappeared without the memory of even saying ‘goodbye.’

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“When you’re young, you forget that every old person used to be young; but when you get old, you somehow remember.”

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Creepy

There was some group that showed up in my facebook newsfeed called “I’m not creepy, I just have a really good memory.” Thinking about it for a minute, how can you say you’re not creepy? I know on occasion I have pointed out details to people from years in the past, and people find it kind of creepy that I can remember such randomly specific details. To me it’s not creepy, but to others it might be. But one thing I can’t do is tell that person that it’s not creepy; then I’d just be asking them to lie to themselves. I can’t tell someone that reciting 100 digits of pi makes me smart, I can’t tell someone that my jokes are funny, and I can’t tell someone that giving them flowers is romantic. You do what you do, but you can’t tell other people what you do; it’s up to them to see it, and it’s up to you to show them.

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