What Are Your Memories Telling You? / Question of the Week #18

Summer fun

There's things that happen in a person's life that are so scorched in the

memory and burned into the heart that there's no forgetting them.  --John Boyne

When you think back to when you were little, or even over the whole of your life, what things stand out to you? Are they specific memories? Are they general thoughts or visions --you know riding your bike through the field, searching for Morel mushrooms, playing Barbies, beads, kickball?


Or are they compliments? Criticisms? Accomplishments? Things that were said to you that hurt your feelings? Are you in specific places:  like your basement, your cabin or cottage, on a vacation, at your Grandparent's house or at school? Do all the memories have a common theme to them? (i.e. do they involve bike riding, or food, action -- sports, swimming, biking, kick ball or vacations?) Now think about how you see those memories....are they in first person or third? Is it like watching a movie of the scene with you in it --as if it is videotaped? Or are you seeing it through your eyes, in first person --- or is it a snapshot, like a photo in an album? Obviously I've got lots and lots of questions I can ask and this exercise works best if you are sitting across the table from me, but this will have to do for now. Being a substitute teacher in many schools and districts gives me the opportunity to ask these questions to captive audiences. (one benefit I LOVE of being a sub is having a tiny bit of wiggle room in what you need to accomplish in the class). I am taking  every opportunity lately to help kids learn to see their own natural talents, and also understand the natural talents of others. While some are bored as I ask my questions, most are interested and play along with me. (Heck it is better than doing history or science homework, right?). There are some kids that ask me why I want to know how they think, and my short answer is that I am fascinated by how individual (yet the same) we all are. I am interested in memories because I feel they tell us something about our personalities. (I just haven't figured it out yet)--but, I will. So if you are willing to share yours in the comment section of this blog, I will use it to make my observations. Think of the millions of memories that are stored in our brains. Why do only certain things stand out? There has to be a reason. Are they life defining, did they initiate change in us, did they scare us, delight us, move us? Clearly,  I'm fascinated...

Question of the Week: In Looking Back to When You Were Young, What Do You Remember?

I remember most things as if I can see the scene--as if there was a videographer in the corner filming parts of my life. Very rarely do I see it through my own first person eyes. Certain parts (earlier years) I see in photos. The common thread between many of my memories is that they are things that people said to me. Whether it be an adult telling my mom I was bossy, or overhearing another saying that I had gotten fat in college, or a neighbor stopping to report that I had ridden my bike down the driveway and turned into the street (without stopping at the bottom of my driveway and looking). I remember them all. Not the praises, or the compliments, those really didn't stand out to me--it was the criticisms, the mistakes I made. I remember some scary things, like my sister cracking her head open so many times, my dad's tonsils hemorrhaging, the time I fell off a bike and scraped up my knee so bad it is still scarred.  The one or two times I heard my parents fight. I remember being embarrassed when a boy asked me to "go with him", and I asked, "Go where?" He meant, "Will you go steady and be my girlfriend?" Oops. I remember not being prepared for presentations or tests and knowing I did not do my best. I remember all the things that I learned lessons from. Because that is the kind of mind I have. I have learned that I am a highly sensitive person, and that is one of our traits, to always be thinking, learning, and never making the same mistake twice. It might seem like I was unhappy growing up but you'd be wrong. Because I was so happy, and safe, I don't think of only good memories like some people who didn't have as secure of a childhood as I did, I remember my life as a kid in a general sense: as carefree, happy, fun. Summers were hot and stretched on forever. Winters were filled with adventure. I read, I played games, I built forts, did puzzles, crafted, searched for Indian mounds and rocks, collected night crawlers, spent endless hours fishing in a boat with my whole family.  I can recall all those as well, in general senses, but specific memories are the ones that caused me to learn, to change, to grow, to confront, to accept. And because of that, I remember them. What do your memories tell you?

“Unhappy memories are persistent. They're specific, and it's the details that refuse to leave us alone. Though a happy memory may stay with you just as long as one that makes you miserable, what you remember softens over time. What you recall is simply that you were happy, not necessarily the individual moments that brought about your joy. But the memory of something painful does just the opposite. It retains its original shape, all bony fingers and pointy elbows. Every time it returns, you get a quick poke in the eye or jab in the stomach. The memory of being unhappy has the power to hurt us long after the fact. We feel the injury anew each and every time we think of it.” ―   Cameron Dokey