Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Differences in perception, or lost memories

I've been thinking about the excellent comments from a recent post; I really like the dialogue that happened there, and the different perspectives my friends bring to my awareness.

Several years ago on vacation I stopped by the first school I ever attended, Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic school. Being familiar with the concept of how memories are formed -and knowing that perceptions will change as a person's mind matures and the importance we place on various details will shift with maturity and life experience- and knowing that it would in actuality be vastly different from how I remembered it, I focused on those details that had seemed so important as a five year old. I noted differences in reality versus the perceptions I had, and I found that even though I misremembered a lot of things it didn't change the fundamental experiences I had.

I have spent a lot of time figuring out what my various experiences mean to me as a person, and what they don't mean. And one of the things that I have learned from this self-exploration is that I truly am not defined by these experiences; I feel that I am defined by how I react to them, and how I conduct myself. I am defined by the things that I have control over, and not by what other people choose to do to and around me.

In all this exploration and revisiting of the past, there are holes. Spaces in time where I cannot pull a memory out of an event. I know certain things to be true, because people I trust have told me, but I don't have recall of those events.

I understand the reason for some of these memory-blanks, but I find it unsettling. It makes me feel sort of emotionally dizzy, like when I'm riding in a car and not paying attention to the road. I expect to be somewhere but when I look around I am not at all where I thought I was. Not being able to remember much of my life leaves me feeling a little disoriented, and very occasionally I feel desperately certain that the memories contained within that moment are the key to unlocking any number of things on my list of personality traits to figure out.

Is it important? At the end of each day am I worse off because I don't have these pieces filled in? No. Does it change anything in a really big way? I don't think so. But it's always the thing one doesn't have, that one wants so desperately.


Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued by your ambivalence. You recognize these experiences and memories do not define you, yet you seem to yearn to recall them like you're missing a piece of you until you can "get them back." I'm curious, what would happen if you did remember them? If you "had" them? What would the result be?

Jade said...

I don't know - that's just the point. Maybe it would change nothing, maybe it would be worse to remember.

It's the big blank spots that have me wondering about them. It's not so much the content, because I don't honestly believe the content would be so life-changing, but the fact that there are things that when described to me by others who were there, I do not recall; situations that affect the way I feel about life and that affect my own personality that I don't recognize. It affects me, because all my experiences have helped shape me into who I am. I have emotional reactions to things that I can't actually visualise. It feels disorienting.

It's not the same as remembering buildings to be bigger or the layout of a room differently ... it's not remembering many details about events that I was a part of.

Carie said...

Who cares about old lost memories - it's time to make some new ones! Like beach house weekend for instance! Whoo hoo!

Oops... I just peed myself a little thinking about it. :D

Anonymous said...

Is it more the empty spaces in your memory where there are no details or is it the meaning you attach to having these blank spaces instead of detail-filled memories that bothers you? What does it mean to you specifically, what ideas do you have about possessing this blank space that are the source of your feelings of disorientation? Dig deeper :)

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