Isn’t it funny how memories work? What your brain recalls, what it chooses to forget… For some reason I’m not really sure of, my family and I, particularly my mother, have been discussing our memories and pasts recently and it brought up some concepts related to memory that always intrigue me.
My first memory is from when I was three or four years old. My twin brother and I were about to star in a fashion show at nursery, and he was so excited that he ran, on a rainy, overcast day, misjudged where the door was, and smashed his nose on the stone wall outside. I always insist to Mum it was the Christmas party we ended up missing out on, because I remember taking his present home with me and giving it to him, but Mum’s equally insistent it was the fashion show. I’m fairly certain he didn’t miss out on both events, so either he did miss the Christmas party after all, or the present was a gift for participating (or in his case, not, as it turned out) in the fashion show.
I wonder whether it’s because it was such a dramatic event that it sticks in my mind (it’s my brother’s first memory as well). Dramatic, or traumatic, events in people’s lives tend to be recalled more easily even at a very early age (though three or four isn’t actually remarkably early as far as I can tell). This is where Mum comes in. When she was a toddler, she had lots of problems with her hips and ended up in plaster casts on her entire lower half, and spent a lot of time in hospital at around two years old.
She remembers those days very vividly, whereas I can’t recall being two at all. The details she offers are almost trivial; for example, sitting with an ice cream in the sun after the staff opened the blinds right up. She remembers the pain, and her visitors. I suspect that if this hadn’t happened to her she wouldn’t remember being two either, although I am aware of some people’s memories stretching back that far even without something major occurring then.
I myself remember tedious details about my own hospital stay at five years old, like insisting to my dad I didn’t like Crunchie bars, but when he convinced me to have one I loved them, but then I can’t even remember my teacher coming to visit with a card signed by my classmates, which happened. There’s tons of stuff in my early teens I remember, but some of it only comes to me when prompted by seeing a written account, or finding an object which brings it all flooding back. It’s interesting thinking about what you can and can’t remember – someone’s name, even someone’s existence, or what you were wearing during an event – and also how you remember it, e.g. recalling something of your own accord or requiring a prop to stimulate those memory banks.
I used to have an online journal, which is really good for looking back on moments that were so unimportant that I ended up forgetting them, but which turn out to be interesting upon reflection later. I am considering beginning a journal again, but either on paper or on the computer, and one only I view. There are tons of pros and cons to having an online journaling presence, which is an idea for another blog post, and for the moment, for a few reasons, I’d prefer to have my own private space (I plan to use my blog for musing on specific topics, a bit like this post, rather than day-to-day activity). Writing down day-to-day events and feelings is a great way to look back on things and recall what would otherwise have been lost from your mind forever, or, as is sometimes the case, popping up in your head randomly and unexpectedly!
I don’t really know where I was going with this, but the subject’s just been on my mind for a few days. I just thought I’d ramble a bit about it.
What was your first memory?
Until next time,