Apparently, there are three significant things that begin occurring when you start getting old. You begin losing your memory; you begin losing your hair; and the third thing is…I’ve forgotten!
Just to be clear from the outset here, I do not feel like I am getting old, even though I am most certainly, albeit rather reluctantly in the middle-aged category, despite my youthful looks and energy!
I have always been fascinated by the things we somehow remember as opposed to the stuff we simply forget. I remember watching a documentary many, many years ago about first memories and the typical age from which you can recall certain things. Afterwards, I tried to recall my very first memory and it was this: I was sitting in a high chair and there were a few people in the room. Someone was approaching me with a cake that had a lit candle on it. I checked in with my Mum and assumed it must have been my second birthday (the documentary said the average earliest memory that can usually be recalled is around age two.) I asked her, “But I could only see one candle on the cake. Did you lose the other one?” She replied, “No, of course not! It was your first birthday!”
I was impressed to say the least. The fact that most days I may go upstairs to get or do something and by the time I arrive there, I have completely forgotten why I went in the first place, or worse, come back down without even realising I’ve forgotten all about the original reason I went upstairs in the first place does not of course negate this brilliant feat of memory recall.
Where I do still genuinely excel is in the category of photographic memory. Now I don’t claim to be able to memorise telephone directories or reel off twenty-five digit codes a la secret agents old and new but I do recall with consummate ease familiar car number plates to such a degree that I will recognise a friend’s car instantly and in the past for fun, have called that person to enquire why they are speeding or chopping lanes so randomly. And pre-mobile-phone-address books, I would know virtually every contact’s number I needed without consulting my hard copy address book or Filofax. Perhaps this is where my memory works well with repetition, I forget.
So I have a small challenge for you as you consider your memories and the hopefully happy collection of images, smells, names and numbers – both recent and distant.
What is your favourite ever memory?
When was the last time you created a memory to even begin rivalling that favourite?
What memories have you yet to make?
How long will you give yourself before you forget your desire for those yet-to-be-made memories?
“Mindfulness” is all the rage right now and no doubt some are becoming increasingly cynical about the pressure to be so focussed on “being in the present moment” that it is very easy to miss the point altogether. What if we ditched that term and simply called it “Memory Making”?