Memory is a Tricky Tease

Time moves in one direction, memory in another -- William Gibson

Time moves in one direction, memory in another — William Gibson

We all know memory is a tricky thing, sometimes teasing, sometimes torturing as we grasp at the past, often during attempts to deal with the present and plan for the future. As we learn more and more about the human brain and its miraculous functions, we also come to understand that memories are not exact, finite things. There is no portion of the human brain that functions as a “filing cabinet” from which memories are extracted whole and presented for retrospection. Instead, a “memory” is formed through input from various sections of the brain, with data collected and assimilated into a reconstruction of something or someone past. This means a “memory” is not an exact thing, but a re-creation.

I was considering this recently after reading a column by a friend with whom I attended school from our first day through high school. His well-crafted piece, featured in the hometown newspaper, was his recollection of beginning school with that fearful walk into the first grade classroom (no kindergarten in those days in our little town). Having shared that experience – we were in the same class – it was interesting to compare my memories, admittedly dim, with his, and allow his to cause me to examine things forgotten.

One thing I agreed with was the slanted perception of that time and place and situation. For me, it reinforces the notion that memories are recreations, perceptions fed through Continue reading


A Simple Bumper Sticker Says It All: Don’t Postpone Joy

My adopted home of Asheville, North Carolina continues to make lists for best of this and best of that, which makes some people happy (particularly those in the tourism and real estate industries). There are others among us who would prefer to be a bit further off the grid.

However, one list the town hasn’t made—as far as I know and assuming there is such a list—is as the place with the most cars bearing multiple bumper stickers. There are vehicles on the streets here on which literally the entire rear is covered with all manner of messages in an array of colors. It may well be part of the eclectic, bohemian joie de vivre here in which letting your freak flag fly is both condoned and encouraged. Or maybe it’s just a subtle, and not so subtle, way to make your feelings visible. And, like a good quote, the quick, pithy bumper sticker message may have more clout and perhaps even produces more contemplation.

There’s one I hadn’t run across previously, but seems to abound here: “Don’t Postpone Joy.” I can’t say how many times I’d probably seen it before I actually paused and considered the sentiment. Continue reading