Memory and Memories

Today, I've been recalling seemingly random memories and started noticing a particular characteristic. They all seem to play back in the preserved present. There is remembering the name of a song, a telephone number, a person's name. However, the kind of memory I'm referring to is in the first person; where you're there in the moment. These memories seem selective in the content they preserve.

In your first person memories, are you worrying about the future, getting a better job, or paying the bills? If you're like me, then, no. In the present tense, my memories seem to retain a natural focus on what's important. If so, these memories can be a guide for what I should value and focus on in my life today.

I also notice my first person memories don't naturally include numeric data. I can remember how much money I made, paying my bills, or paying for a meal in a restaurant. However, I don't seem to have first person memories where that information comes up. I remember meals I had with friends, but I can't remember the moment I pay the waiter, even if I have vivid memories of the people and conversation leading up to that point. Numeric data does not seem to be part of my first person memory narrative.

Many of us live too much of our lives in anxiety over the future or in regret over the past. However, we only build memories in the present. Age gradually takes things away from us we took for granted, until finally, all we have left is our present self with our memories. We can learn from the character of our memories what's meaningful for us today. Our relationships with people; joy; grief; and moments of beauty and discovery. On the other hand, how much money I made doesn't seem to play in first person memory.

Will memories have any value when we pass away? I believe our memory records the meaning we manage to capture from one present moment to the next. Maybe our memories are the Creator's tablet he uses to record our lives. Our memories may be thirsting to find meaningful events to live and record. We may find fellow saints in heaven reading the meaning of our lives, transparent and recorded, in memory, for all eternity.
Matthew 10:26 - Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
I Corinthians 4:5 - Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
These thoughts on memory remind me of some things Viktor Frankl said. I'm sure he's influenced my thinking on this even though I was not thinking of him as I drove the truck around today. He found meaning in the most dire of conditions; in a German concentration camp during the Holocaust. He wrote the following on the creation and importance of memory; and how he links memory with meaning.
The transitoriness of our existence in no way make it meaningless. For, in the past, nothing is irretrievably lost but everything is irrevocably stored.
Man constantly makes his choice concerning the mass of present potentialities; which of these will be condemned to nonbeing and which will be actualized? Which choice will be made an actuality once and forever, an immortal “footprint in the sands of time”?
What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old? He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest…Instead of possibilities, he has realities in his past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered.
The potentialities they have actualized, the meanings they have fulfilled, the values they have realized – these assets can never be removed from the past.
Viktor Frankl was a remarkable person and brilliant psychologist. He said things that go deep to the heart and ring clear. I found some more quotes I'll share and an old video on YouTube I'll post tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dan, Thanks for bringing Victor Frankl to your blog. I enjoyed the clip. Jeanette