Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2021

Throwback Thursday from Jan. – “Memories Are Made Of This”

Throwback Thursday from Jan. – “Memories Are Made Of This”

ONE OF THE MOST PRECIOUS THINGS that we, as humans, have is a memory. memory 1Our memory can keep the span of our entire lives and bring back to us people and moments long past. We have our memories, but how we remember something or someone may vary from the long-past reality. Our memory of time spent with a particular person may tell us that things were better or worse than they actually were.

Looking back at our lives through the Lens of Time gives us an abridged and edited view of our life. Some details will have vanished while others may be given a significance that they did not have back at that moment in time.

There are some people who, through some quirk of their genetic recipe, remember everything – everything that they have ever experienced. I cannot imagine what that must be like. In my opinion there is so much of everyday life that is not worth remembering. It does not matter to me what was on my grocery list on October, 12 1977. I don’t recall if I even had a shopping list on that day, but someone with an “eidetic” memory could rattle off their shopping list, and what they paid for each item. I picture their brain as being like my Grandmother’s attic, where nothing was ever thrown away.

When I, and I suspect most of you as well, recall something from our distant past it is because something triggered that memory – a word, a song, an aroma, or a photograph in a long forgotten family album.

I am nearing 70 years of age and yet when I smell ether, which is used in some cleaners and solvents, It shoots me back with a startling clarity to the age of three when I first had surgery on my leg. Ether was used as the anesthesia. When I catch a whiff of it 67 years later I am back in that hospital and I can describe it all in minute detail to you. Is my memory of that time perfect and exact? Surely not. The memory was created through the terrified eyes of a small child, with a child’s understanding and points of reference. What I’m remembering now about that is refracted through that Lens of Time.

I read, just the other night, that “Remembering is a practice and an art.” We can sit and try to remember something from the past and our success will be colored by factors both within and beyond our control. With practice we can select the filters that frame our memories, sharpening the focus on certain aspects while pushing other parts into the background.Memory 2

In courtrooms it is not unusual to see a number of people, who all witnessed the exact same incident, honestly testify about their memory of that incident and present such differing versions that you would think that no two of them had seen the same thing.

All of our memories are filtered. My memories triggered by the smell of ether go through the filters of age, time, fear, and probably some pre-surgery meds that were coursing through my veins. The Practice of Memory becomes the Art as we interpret what we remember and account for the framework of filters.

People who write autobiographies recall their lives and, as they write, employ new filters. A certain memory might be quite accurate, but to put it into print might result in some new and most unpleasant memories when lawsuits and fistfights follow. Discretion may be the better part of Memory in some cases.

We are making new memories every moment, consciously and unconsciously. I remember talking with my wife, the lovely and memorable, Dawn, this morning, but I’ve already forgotten what was on the front page of the newspaper, also this morning. I have prioritized these two events into memorable and non-memorable. Of course, what I deem to be memorable today may not survive until tomorrow in my catalogue of memories.

Only Time will tell.Memory 3

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2 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday from Jan. – “Memories Are Made Of This”

  1. Somewhat more serious today, John. That’s good. Seriousness should be taken more serious…..seriously. Also, I, too, “remember when” as the aroma of ether enters the nostrils. My mind goes back to being held in my Mother’s arms and she being in a black leather arm chair at the Clinic, when I was around 5, and having it administered before the Doctor down in Palestine, IL, took my swollen tonsils out. And, what seemed like a split-second, I awoke still in her arms and she and the Doctor talking to me so I would wake up. Funny. Something like that and I only think of it when the smell of ether is around.

    I have written an, I guess autobiography, of “My Life In The USAF”. I’ve started one, “My Life After The USAF”. May incorporate them someday when the latter is finished. During the first one when I had thoughts, and I had to generate a lot of them, because this was December 1952 through December 1956, it just seemed one thought generated one or two more. The urge to “flower” or exaggerate some of the thoughts was enormous. Naturally I succumbed to the urge. It made that particular event more interesting and fun to tell about. Not that sticking to that particular thought was interesting and fun by it’s self, but I kept thinking that a little more “color” was appropriate for the reader (?). In the Comments at the beginning I wrote that “the following is from actual events”, or words similar. After my youngest Son read it he asked if it was all true, especially the things that happened in Europe. I told him to re-read the Comments at the beginning. 🙂

    Stay warm.


  2. Excellent post, John. My writing helps my memory, I find. But, as my father-in-law, one of the smartest (and cantankerous) men I’ve met, always told me, “you have a good memory…but it’s short!”

    Liked by 1 person

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