I remember bits and pieces of my childhood: favorite toys like click-clacks (outlawed), a steel slinky (they’re now plastic), Lincoln logs (real wood), lawn darts (gotta love the 70s), my Easy-Bake oven (too much)? These are examples of my long-term memory, still wonderfully intact, though certainly not comprising a full inventory anymore. Yet certain images or songs, or the mention of a name I haven’t heard in decades, can trigger amazing memories.
And I remember what I had for lunch a few hours ago (chicken, tomato and Swiss cheese on a toasted baguette), the conversation I had with a friend this evening and even what I promised to have done by Friday in a meeting this morning that I'm sure can wait until Monday. All simple examples of my short-term memory.
But it’s all of that information in between, the midterm memory, that’s a total blank. What was I thinking six months ago? What was critical in my life five years ago? I’m sure I had a to-do list. How much have I actually forgotten? A movie comes on cable and I’m sure I’ve seen it but I’m not totally convinced, so I watch it all the way through and experience some demented form of Déjà vu. I can’t remember what happens next, but as soon it does, I’m disappointed because I somehow knew that. It takes two hours to realize I didn’t enjoy the film the first time either.
I’m convinced we all have a limited storage capacity for memories, and by the time we reach midlife, we're maxed out. Every time we form a new memory, an old one is erased. Yes, it’s a file-delete-replace scenario. And exactly what pivotal moments or formative experiences of my life are being replaced by “But his real name is Marshall Mathers III”, or “No, there were nine Enterprise starships (everyone forgets the USS [not NCC] XCV 330, though it predates the Federation, it still counts!)”, or “I'm pretty sure it’s Rock of Love two and Flavor of Love threeeee”?
And trying not to retain a new stupid memory will only reinforce it more. "Farewell!" whatever it was that allowed me to finally reach self-acceptance. Guess it's back to therapy. Maybe this time we can restore some lost memories using regression, just not too far or I may end up losing another nugget when I grab something from a past life by mistake. "I liked to wash the linens at the far end of the river, just out of sight of Papa but still within view of young Jebediah's stable." What?! I was a chick? Great...
No Earth-shattering revelations or scientific backing here. Just sharing another one of my neuroses so I may not be alone in continuing to worry about the things I’ve forgotten that probably don’t matter. And how would I know anyway?