10 August 2010
Day 136: Noah's Compass
This book has an awful lot to do about memory and memory loss. Thankfully it's not the sole focus or the gimmick of the book, but rather a vehicle for exploring themes and issues that arise in transitioning from working life into retirement. One scene caught my eye as being a good discussion starter in book group. It entails Liam's sister Julia recounting memories with very specific details. Liam is extremely jealous of Julia's capability be able to remember things he didn't even notice to begin with.
I don't think people actually have memories like that. I do believe that there are people who have more detail oriented memories, who are more likely to remember small things about random events. However, I also think their minds may be better at filling in gaps when they go to recall memories. I get the feeling these are the people more likely to be visual learners and/or the creative types. Rather than having to repeat tasks or hear instructions about what they're supposed to do next, they can see it once and their minds visualize the process in such a way that if they don't remember it exactly it is close enough they can repeat it.
I have to admit my own mind isn't overly detail oriented. I'm very much a kinesthetic learner (learn by doing). I can do some visual learning, whereas listening to instructions is nearly always disastrous for me. There are of course times when I'm able to remember small details. I can tell you what I was wearing the night my fiance proposed to me, for instance. Or I could tell you what my first cat's fur smelled like when he came in from outside in the late evening. But I don't remember every single detail of every memory. I find it hard to believe that anyone out there could (although there are rarities like Jill Price).
Strangely the only time I was able to keep details in my head was when I was actively keeping a journal during my time at Antioch. I also had a tendency to reread them frequently, which is something I've stopped doing, because it's pretty painful to read any 18 year old's thoughts and there's nothing worse than seeing how wrong headed and stuck up you were at that age. I would certainly like to remember more details about my life, but I'm also happy that I've forgotten many of my other experiences. I'm not sure I would give up the ability to forget, just so I could remember what color shirt my mom wore on my first day of kindergarten.