Childhood · Life · Memory · Nurture · Philosophy · Quotes · Thoughts

Perils of having a good memory


Quoting my favourite, Nora Ephron, from one of her essays as a journalist :

“I will tell you something else: they didn’t drink wine back in the early fifties and sixties. Nobody knew about wine. I mean, someone did, obviously, but most people drank hard liquor all the way through dinner. Recently, I saw a movie in which people were eating take-out pizza in 1948 and it drove me nuts. There was no take-out pizza in 1948. There was barely any pizza, and barely any takeout. These are some of the things I know, and they’re entirely useless, and take up way too much space in my brain.”

Such ease in her self-realisation.

If you identify with what Nora Ephron says about knowing and remembering (what’s usually perceived as) the useless, then you’d also agree how no one really knows why certain people are able to remember the mundane like they do! I, for one, fit the bill perfectly and have never figured the ‘how’ either (having given up on the ‘why’, a long time ago!)

At work, I know by-heart random 6-digit identifiers, exact folder locations, long names of documents and database tables, exact figures on a report, to the second decimal sometimes. I am the walking-talking reference book for my colleagues to look up such information from! As much as I try to look sheepish about it, I secretly pride myself at the marvellous memory I’ve been blessed with. Like, the other day, I related a search analysis to another we did almost 8 months ago; I recollected the details and later confirmed I was right, at which point of course, my colleague gave me a side glance with a raised brow that probably dubbed as, “Why, Ramya, why, why on earth would you remember that?!”

As much as I feel proud of being able to save the day when I remember an old password during an emergency online flight ticket purchase, I am also beginning to realise that growing older with a memory that stores everything in painstaking details, is not entirely a boon. I seem to remember every little odd thing from my college life; all the funny and serious incidents, most of the conversations, {that I now relay to my friends who don’t seem to recollect these at all, and it makes me wonder whether they are imaginary or the conversation was?} Not just that, every single Google search gets filed in the memory palace; all the gory details of what a harmless wrist ache could go on to mean are carefully stacked and so on!

Every coin has a flip side, and perhaps the peril of a good memory is remembering forever more than you’d like your brain to, about possibly every-useless-thing.

It is paradoxical how throughout our student lives, we are taught to be like an empty vessel and eagerly await to be brimmed with information & facts, knowledge, and hopefully wisdom, eventually. In the process of it though, we tend to assume the space to be a limitless container, filling and preserving all the clutter we acquire over time. Perhaps why wisdom is so hard to come by; if we have wisdom settling in in our brain, does the clutter disappear on its own – or is it actually the other way round?

In order to relieve us of this conundrum, I want to put in a request with Gurudev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to rename his teachings from the ‘Art of Living’ to the ‘Art of Binning’ – the unnecessary, the trivial, the redundant from our brain. There is nothing more to world peace than a world full of people with a decently bad memory – if you find a way to bin the trivia of the past, you will probably not worry (or fight violently) for the future! Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s school of thought will greatly benefit from the rebranding, I am sure.

Talking of schools, my next suggestion is to have a new course designed for the more young minds, on ‘how to empty the brain’, where students will be taught to fill their brains with all the possible ways to empty it, of the meaningless as and when required! Need I say more?

As for me, I will try to forget how many versions of this post I edited, and simply put it out there for people to read, and possibly remember it!

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4 thoughts on “Perils of having a good memory

  1. My dear daughter it is not your problem but it is the problem of your genes. Your Mom too remembers a lot of things and I get into trouble sometimes. Please send your suggestion to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Also send your suggestion to experts in AI. They may be able to develop a product that can be implanted in the human brain for storing all information first with a facility to transfer only important information to the permanent sector of the brain. But who decides what is important and what is not? It is you! Therefore the problem can still remain. Particularly for all those who believe in Murphy’s/Parkinson’s laws.

    Very thought provoking write up. Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂
      I believe in moderation, Nanna. Everything in moderation and balance works perfectly! But I wouldn’t trade my good memory for anything 😀 and will instead hope I, with time, learnt to gain some balance that’s all!

      Like

  2. Very good write up indeed! I did recently read that when you prime your mind for doing something, at a subconscious level, you tend to better than normal. A good memory should also be linked to how we prep or perceive the data at hand which then lingers on longer than expected.

    Like

  3. This is a wonderful post bhabhi… I too sail in the same boat and it actually bothers me sometimes.. There is a saying “Too much of everything is bad” . It fits perfectly here as well.. Too much of unwanted stuff in brain!!! Awesome post..i could relate every bit of this to myself

    Liked by 1 person

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