I’ve always had a good memory. Not so much for things on my personal To-Do List; I’m notorious for forgetting to do things like that, though I suspect issues other than memory come into play there. I have already blogged on Procrastination once – I sense another one coming, when I can get around to it.
Anyway, where was I? (Just kidding).
My memory is good, though far from the “photographic memory” league. Before the advent of pre-programmed telephone numbers I could remember a lot of numbers. I’m good at remembering birthdays, just not at remembering to post birthday cards and presents. I barely need a calendar or diary – I record things only as a failsafe, but usually remember my week’s appointments in my head. I’m less good at remembering things I tell myself to remember when I read, I‘m really bad at remembering quotes or jokes or punch-lines. I’m quite good at names and faces, and very good at places. I’m good at languages, and that’s pretty much all memory. But I fear I’m going to become like my mother and forget which story I have told whom. (I fear I already repeat myself when blogging). I’m really bad at remembering subjects I want to blog about; I have brilliant ideas when I’m working out, showering, or driving, then when I get home, my mind goes blank. When I am out though – for example, eating passionfruit gelato by the beach – if I compose a blog in my head, I can usually recreate it almost (not quite) word for word when I get home to my computer.
I vainly pride myself on my ability to remember events, trips etc. (And of course, like every good woman, arguments with my husband). Most of my travel articles on my Travelalphablog have been written by memory, many of them from the early 1990s. I have very strong and clear memories of my AFS exchange year in Thailand, 31 years ago. I remember discussing this with my niece. At 18, she was astonished that I could still remember things very clearly from the dark ages when I myself was 18. She claimed she couldn’t even remember the previous year! (I’m not so sure I believe her.) Anyway, recently I have been working on a little project and have been re-reading both my diaries from 1980 and my letters home. I found I was a terrible diarist, focusing more on what I had for lunch than most other issues. But usually my memory has been able to fill in the blanks on major events or items. Often in quite intense detail – smells, tastes, emotions (all powerful memory joggers, of course). Until today, that is. Or should I say, until 14 May 1980. I recorded the visit of my friend Jane and her friend/chaperone/host brother (I don’t remember which), Somchai. I remember his name. There had been a mix-up with the AFS office, and my host father was annoyed. I vaguely remember that. But what I don’t remember is what we did on the visit. In particular, my diary records an adventure to Chonburi, south of Bangkok, with Jenni and Gayle. I read it, and find I have no memory of it.
I am shocked. I am not accustomed to not remembering. A taste of things to come, perhaps?
Which brings me the rare opportunity to quote Nietzsche:
The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
The existence of forgetting has never been proved: We only know that some things don’t come to mind when we want them. ~Friedrich Nietzsche