Memory, Recall, and Significance

As we age, we tend to fret that we can’t remember what happened yesterday or last week as well as some events of our youth which seemed as if they happened just yesterday. Our most recent days seem to blur into each other.

I think this is not just an effect of age, but of perspective. We have sifted through those distant events. The ones imbued with the most significance rise to the top; the rest drain away. We recall them time and again, talking with friends and family, looking at old photos. We shape and mold those memories. We create them.

Likewise we have forgotten as many trivial moments of our early life as the trivial moments of our present life. We don’t remember the groceries we bought, the loads of laundry we did, the algebra homework, the endless boring meetings at work. Obviously we don’t remember what we have forgotten.

Until we have moved some distance away from this moment, we will not be able to assess its significance. When we say goodbye to a friend, we cannot know if those will be the last words we speak to him until some moment much later. When we say hello to a stranger, we cannot know if she will become a friend or a lover.

We live our life in the moment; we create our narrative upon reflection.