Most people misunderstand how memory works. We think of it as a recording of our daily lives. It is not. It is a compendium of images, sounds, smells, and tastes; voices, conversations, laughter, and feelings; moments of ecstasy and sorrow, joy and tears, the common and the unique.
We don’t record our memories, we ingest them. They become the spark that lights up the synapses and neurons of our brain.
It is why the smell of freshly mowed grass sparks a memory of Little League baseball game from long ago.
It is why the sight of a school bus triggers the echoes of a loud end-of-school song sung endlessly home on the last day of fourth grade.
It is how the taste of cranberry sauce ignites the memory of a conversation with a long dead grandfather.
It is why we recall all the words of a song we haven’t heard in years when we see the ocean.
It is how we remember voices of friends and the experiences we shared.
Our memories aren’t part of us. Our memories are us. They make us what we are today and how we will change tomorrow.
It is one of the things which defines our individuality. Even those seemingly shared experiences; first love, graduation, flying on a plane, catching the final out of a championship game are seen in our own unique way.
I had a moment today to lie in the grass with my daughter’s dog and just watch the clouds wink in and out of formation. Taking on shapes. Morphing into creatures or food or faces.
Something I recall doing often in my youth.
With all the distractions in the world, I do not think we take enough time to simply look up at the clouds. To watch a wind-blown spider web jump in and out of visibility. To see sunlight catching the needles of a pine tree, changing the hue through the whole spectrum of green.
When was the last time you took a moment to lie in the grass and look at the sky?
When was the last time you listened to the memories in your mind as they linked and jumped and danced in your brain?
When was the last time you took a moment to listen to yourself breath? Let the sun warm your face? Felt the breeze wash over you?
Don’t think you have time for such things? All too soon, you may find you were right.