If I do not possess an elephantine memory, I do not have the memory of a goldfish either. Well let me first quit ways from discrediting this member of the Cyprinidae family and redeem its status. Contrary to the old belief that goldfish have just a three-second memory span, studies have debunked the myth and proved that they can actually remember things for months. So perhaps it’s time that the comparisons and stereotyping stop and we leave the poor creature alone! I also think it will not be a bad idea if the story of Finding Nemo be slightly revamped with Dory the blue tang being painted with a different shade rather than as the forgetful fish!
Going back to the point where I initially started, I would like to state that I have discovered that I can no longer pride myself as having a good memory. I don’t know whether age and stress are catching up, but whatever the cause might be, I have become forgetful in recent times. I have decided not to browse the Internet, lest the reasons listed for forgetfulness add another iota to my already prevalent worries.
Without relying on technology, I used to remember birthdays, anniversaries, and important occasions of family and friends and would wish them on the date without fail. Nowadays I put a reminder on the phone, and there have been times when I have missed calling up people because I had put it off for a later moment when the buzzer rang. Misplacing items around the house is another issue I will abstain from addressing.
I however do not feel alone when I hear other people narrating their episodes of forgetfulness or absent-mindedness. An aunt drove 50 miles and reached home to discover that her purse with the house keys was left behind at the place of the relative she had visited. One friend mentioned how she had turned up for an invitation a week prior to the actual event. And then there is this young lady in her thirties who mixes up names. She shared an incident that caused her no end of embarrassment at a party. Thinking the father’s name to be the son’s, she had excitedly greeted the three year old with open arms, shouting out the dad’s name, only to be corrected instantly by the mom who called out her child by the right name. Perhaps the mother was not too amused with her husband being the object of such (unintended and accidental) affection!
To have a good memory is to be blessed with a precious endowment. My mother very proudly spoke about a relative of hers who was loved and respected in his academic circle. A university professor, the gentleman had a fantastic memory. Current students aside, upon meeting boys and girls he had taught two to three decades ago, he would address them by their names. This was totally incredible and went on for many more years even after he retired from his job!
If history is to be believed, Theodore Roosevelt had an eidetic memory. He could flawlessly recollect the content of documents he had read a decade ago and could recite an entire newspaper, not just its articles, as though it were in front of him.
On a scathing yet funny note, let’s think about the liar. Someone who lies through his teeth ought to have a good memory too in order to excel in the craft. Unless he maintains the same version of his story before different audiences, his credibility is at stake.
What goes on to make a genius? Creativity, originality, and a high intellect are some of the attributes, not to leave aside the impressive IQ level. We almost take for granted that all geniuses have excellent memories, which is not always the case. There is a very interesting story about Albert Einstein forgetting his home address on his way back home from Princeton University and seeking the help of the cab driver to find his way out! Does this make him any less of a genius? Absolutely not! A quote from the great scientist himself emerges in the same direction, “Never memorize something you can look up.”
Obviously there are no second thoughts about how a good memory comes to great use. But while singing a psalm of praise, it’s worthwhile to consider how deliberate or intentional forgetting is sometimes desirable. Every individual at some point of time experiences a rocky, bumpy ride in his or her life. And the memories associated with these events are bitter. So though not easy, one needs to make a conscious attempt to forget and detach one’s self from the times that might reopen the old wounds. Forgetting is helpful under these circumstances, and it is possible to do so. In fact new research validates the claim made by Sigmund Freud at the beginning of the 20th century that just like how we control our motor impulses, we can control our memory too!
So here comes my two cents: remember the good times, and erase from your mind the unpleasant moments that caused you pain. Cherish the good souls who have always stood by you, and let go off the meanie’s words that made you cry. And cheer up, and don’t worry if you have missed wishing someone for a special occasion, confused the neighborhood plumber with the electrician, or if you cannot instantly recollect where you have misplaced and kept things in your house. There are many like you, and because of these minor slip-ups, the world sure won’t fall apart!