Forgetting Things That Happened … and Remembering Things That Didn't! I've laughingly told close friends that one day I would write a column about forgetting things that happened and remembering things that didn't. Today is the day.
AARP has a monthly publication that often has good materials about ageing in America. This month has an article which confirms my lighthearted view of the past. Turns out that as we age our memories sometimes fill in details that were not there and omits things that were there.
When reminiscing with old friends I have had since the 1950s - like Mike Capps, Dale Duren and Steve Reid - I find we will disagree about some aspect of some story we both remember. It might be the color of a car. It might be the time and setting of an event which took place. It might be what someone said or did.
It is common for people of all ages to remember things differently. There's a reason eyewitness testimony is considered by many in the legal business to be less reliable than video recordings, or circumstantial evidence, or scientific boundaries. We know that when people experience an event, the memory and perception they have of the event is unique to them. Two people view an accident or incident from two different perspectives and see those events differently in terms of causation and fault.
Sometimes the difference in perspective is based upon location. Sometimes it is based upon the exact moment each person began to perceive the event. Sometimes, however, it is the bias or prejudice of a person which alters their perception of such events. So unless we have video which can be viewed over and over, from multiple angles, we often cannot know for a certainty whether a witness is telling THE truth, or merely telling his or her truth.
In the stories I talk about with my longtime friends, nothing important is at stake. We're merely talking over old times. But what about the senior citizen who is at the doctor - who is perhaps half their age - and the doctor says "take 1 pill four times a day," but the patient comes away thinking "take 4 pills one time a day"? This is why it is important to get medical instructions in writing, to read them carefully, and to follow them.
I also joke with friends that I can remember every detail of some story from forty years ago - but I can't remember whether I told you this story last week. That's funny because it is true. The long past event may be clear in my mind, as I have recalled it many times, told it many times. But remembering who I've told it to is a whole different matter.
As we remember our past - both the immediate past and the long ago past - we are wise to comprehend that memory is subject to omissions and additions. If it is important, write it down at or near the time it happened. Keep it in a notebook you can consult later. You'd be surprised how much this will help you, at any age, keep track of what you do.
Copyright 2018, Jim "Pappy" Moore, all rights reserved.