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Posts Tagged ‘memories’

OTHER REALMS

I’ve been here before

and will be again.

You may think you know me.

Perhaps we were friends?

Perhaps we were lovers,

or brothers in arms?

Siblings who quarreled,

or seers with their charms?

I’m the newest version,

and far from the last.

Deep in my eyes

you may see our pasts.

If we connect

there’s a reason why.

For on an astral plane

we held hands in the sky.

If I loved you once,

and you loved me,

then consciousness exists

so this thing can be.

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My skin was warm from an August day spent out of doors.  I noticed this as I lay in bed reading, legs crossing back and forth over one another, calves touching.  The smoothness and internal heat jarred loose a memory of summer nights from my childhood when my legs touched under the bedsheet in this exact same way, and the warmth had felt good and comforting.  I remembered how I would then fall into the blissful sleep of a young person, as yet untroubled by the concerns of adolescence or the worries of adulthood. 

This was a sensory memory.  I don’t know why, but I recognized this fact immediately, and I began to wonder if we could train ourselves to conjure up these kinds of memories at will.  If it was possible, I felt it could be hugely helpful in our writing, not to mention just an enjoyable pastime.  If you want to write a memoir, it could be crucial.  I googled sensory memory and found out some amazing things.  My interpretation here is from a laypersons perspective.  I’m not a doctor.  The only brain I’ve ever considered studying has been my own.

There are three types of memory – sensory, short-term and long-term.  The first thing I discovered is that everything comes to us by way of sensory memory, which is involuntary, and, are you ready for this, sensory memories only last from one half to four seconds.  They come and they go faster than a sneeze.   I presume it’s the brain’s way of making room for millions more sensory memories as we blithely move through our day.  So, how is it we retain anything?  Well, by paying close attention to something, we can move that fleeting sensory memory to short-term memory, but even that is (hence the name) short-lived, perhaps only minutes.   So how does it make it to long-term status?  Basically by being “memorable”…by the amount of time we pay attention to it.  Apparently my nice sun-warmed legs felt really good when I was falling asleep many decades ago.

We have five senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.  Almost all sensory memory enters our brains via sight or hearing.  The others are less common, and I suspect touch is the least common.  We see and hear all day long.  We physically touch things of significance much less often.  As an example of smell and taste, most of use have retained all aspects of baking and eating Christmas cookies.   We could imagine that chocolate chip delight in our mouths with little effort. This memory was so pleasurable and also reinforced each Christmas, that it is easy to access.

Not everything we have moved to long-term is this easy  to recover.  Sometimes these memories are triggered without warning – like my nice warm legs.  Sometimes they can be accessed through conversation and reminiscing.  I’m sure they can be accessed through our writing.  We know the process of word association.  This is experience association.  I think it should be practiced.  Often, because of health issues, medications, stress, sensory overload, or other physical roadblocks, we cannot retrieve what we have filed in this wonderful organ we call our brain.

I have seen a fellow on television (will try to find his name again because right now my personal retreival system is not firing properly) who has studied and gives seminars on keeping your brain healthy.  It was a mesmerizing show.   He contends negative changes in your brain caused by age, illness, poor diet, smoking, drinking and otherwise just abusing yourself, can be reversed with amazing results – even for senior citizens.  He has an ample supply of side-by-side, before-and-after brain scans to prove this.  The brain is able to regenerate itself quite nicely.  The bottom line is your writing may be improved when your brain is functioning optimally.  Granted, this does make me wonder how much more awesome some famous authors’ works would be if their brains hadn’t been sloshing around in gin.  I can’t say.  I’m just considering the possibilities of exercising our brains and working to consciously gather, store and retrieve information.

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