Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Memories Are Made of Feathers and Follies



If you have done any reading in the news lately you may have seen an article where scientists have taken those memory geniuses...the ones who remember the exact color of your tie when you fought with them on March 16, 1989, the ones that remember exactly what they ordered a year ago at their favorite restaurant, the ones that remember the headline on the newspaper they were reading on the morning of...whatever morning you may ask about, and tested them more closely.  These people are far more amazing than your ex-wife who manages to remember every (wrong) thing you ever did onward from your wedding day.  These folks remember details, lots of miniscule details that we all have forgotten and could care less about.

If you have ever heard or seen the French/American musical called Gigi which played in movie theaters in 1961, you may remember the love song between two elderly lovers who have different versions of how they met and what had happened that important night.  (I loved that movie and wish there were more like it.  It was a perfect romantic movie and Maurice and Hermione were fantastic!)  I also love this song.

But, perhaps, I should return to the direction of my wandering thought if I can remember accurately the direction that I wished to go.  Recent studies of these genius souls whose brains (which contain more fat tissue than yours or mine) remember everything has revealed that they do get some details wrong.  There are incorrect colors, times of day and places.  They just remember so much stuff accurately, that we think they are perfect.  They remember 100 details, but may get 10 of them wrong.  We remember 3 details...and maybe they are mostly inaccurate.

An article that I red online in The Daily Beast recently discussed new research which revealed how our memory changes and evolves as we age.  We leave out bad things that do not fit our version of who we are or we forget those things that we cannot bear to attach to our lives.

"When people get older, they seem to have less tolerance for that," says McAdams. "They’ll kind of reconstruct the past and forget or downplay the bad stuff a little bit.”  “It’s kind of like history. Your life story, at least with respect to the past, is not fixed,” says McAdams. “It’s always going through a revision. In the same way that historians revise how they see the past -- they see World War I one way now and maybe in 30 years they’ll see it a different way -- you see your childhood now one way and later a different way in part because of what you’re going through at that time.”  

Apologies for not saving the link, but since I am not a journalist, I am sure you will forgive me.  If you are a researcher or librarian you will surely find the article above if you try.

I guess if I wrote a small biography, it would be a little like Swiss cheese with chocolate sauce, having a small amount that was true and accurate and a goodly portion that made me a much better person than I am.  I would really like to go back in time and see it all as it really was!  It kind of bothers me that I do not see my life as it really was.

18 comments:

Kerry said...

Memory is such an interesting topic. My mother, who has wandered down the path of dementia, has a constantly evolving memory. She remembers things in a completely different way; one minute it's nonfiction, the next it is fantasy. Crazy.

I think I might have to dig up the article you reference here.

Brian Miller said...

i think we do that...minimize the bad...our memories becoming only the good times...forgetting the trials that came between them...

Stephen Hayes said...

My 88year old mother is currently rewriting all of her memories, so much so that I fnd it hard to identify events where I was present.

Olga said...

I was going to make an intelligent comment, but I have forgotten the topic of your post. What was it again?

Betsy Adams said...

It is interesting to study memory.. Mine is pretty good--but I'm married to the smartest man I've ever known. He can remember almost everything he reads --and it is ACCURATE... When we travel, he becomes a great tour guide since he has read something about the area and he remembers it.. It's GREAT.

Some people have 'selective memory' --and it drives me crazy at times...

Hugs,
Betsy

Linda Reeder said...

I was shocked the first time my sisters remembered childhood events entirely differently than I did.
First we had different perspectives, and then we apparently remember the way we wnat to.

Granny Annie said...

My siblings accuse me of making things up but I have kept a journal since I was ten years old and have back up. lol

My mother was mentally alert to the very end of her life but when I would apologize for horrible things I remembered putting her and my father through, she would swear she had no memory of what I was talking about. She only remembered that I was her precious baby:)

Celia said...

I think our flawed memory, especially dropping the negative things, is the way we are built so we can keep moving forward. The young move on with hope and inexperience and those much older are buoyed by the good memories.

My Dad had one of those photographic memories for written material, I've been forgetting things since I was last in school. Didn't get the gene. So he was a "fat" head, LOL?

Mage said...

Lovely picture. Thanks.

You are going to laugh at me for I wrote it all down as it was happening. From 1974 through now, I am keeping track of my life. It certainly wasn't all nice and pretty. I was a horrible drunk. Add speed, and life got worse.

messymimi said...

So we are all revisionist historians, eh?

rosaria williams said...

We try to make sense all the time, of the present, the past, the times in between. Funny how we all remember different things too; not the same thing with a different perspective, but really different events.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Yes, I've always found it interesting how a story of an event can be retold differently moments after it occurred. We do perceive events differently based on where we are in life. And, I agree, that the bad things sometimes fade. Sometimes that good.

Interesting topic. Still thinking about it.

Peruby said...

I also - LOVE the photo. I would really like to take a long walk down that lane. It is a shame that the Internet has not found a way to transfer smells to the reader. Then again - maybe that is a good thing. LOL!

On memory - tuning out the bad stuff. Uh, yeah! Why would women have more than one child, then? Double LOL!

Bossy Betty said...

Memories are fascinating to me. My sisters keep remembering me as a brat. They are obviously wrong.

Mage said...

It's a good thing I love questions. :) I had this sober lady sleeping on my couch, and she had her eye on a handsome gentleman. He knew she was predatory, so he said he would come to dinner if he could bring his roommate. His roommate was two weeks sober those 31 years ago. I was still drinking and continued to drink another two weeks. We have now been together since 83. It hasn;t at all been perfect, but it is still a wonderful adventure.

Hattie said...

I'm wondering if airbrushing the past is not a way of defending oneself from blame. My mother in law was great at disremembering her power plays and occasional use of bad language. She swore she never put herself first or used bad words. Ha!
My kids report that I used to swat them. Me?
Darn. Where's my halo. I seem to have displaced it.

Pauline said...

My brother insisted I stop publishing stories about our childhood in my newspaper column as I never got things right. I'd show him my journal entries from the time in question and he'd say, "See? You even remembered it wrong back then!"

colleen said...

Wow what a photo! My memory is lock tight on some things but sketchy on others. Like dreams, the memories are strongest around the feel/emotion of the event. Some memories I only know are true becasue I have been telling them for years and mostly only remember the telling. I think I pretty much allow my memory to know be glossed over.