*Note: I wrote this before Finding Dory premiered last week. I can’t wait to see it, which you already know if you listened to Episode 2 of the Generation grannY podcast.*
Do you ever have conversations, and think to yourself, “I am sure I must’ve had this exact conversation before, but I just don’t remember it”?
That happens to me all the time. When I tell a girlfriend how annoying it is that I can’t find any bobby pins, or discuss ways our parents used to punish us as children, I can never entirely remember having that conversation with anyone else before, but I’m sure I have. The topic seems new, and I feel like I’m forming my thoughts on the subject for the first time, but I also know that there’s no way I’ve made it 28 years without having had the exact same conversation at least once or twice prior.
Okay, let’s say 18 years, because I probably wasn’t having legitimate conversations when I was younger than 10 years old. Maybe I did..? I honestly have no clue what I said to my friends when I was kid. Maybe we were deep philosophers. That’s kind of my point of all this, though: My memory of what I’ve said or talked about with people in the past is alarmingly bad. Almost nonexistent.
Sometimes I wonder if our lives are just on one big loop, with the exact same feelings and experiencing cycling through over the years, once we have forgotten that we’ve already had them. Like I mentioned last week, so much of life is just about entertaining our brains until we die, so maybe recycling conversations is one of the ways God helps us keep our brains engaged. There’s only so much to talk about, right?
I think my memory is worst than most, though. People often say, “Remember when we did this?” or “This reminds me of that conversation we had,” and I just nod and pretend to remember, while having absolutely no recollection. I don’t think my mom dropped me on my head as a kid, but I’m seriously beginning to wonder what my deal is. Why do I not remember major events and deep conversations? Clearly the other people who were involved remember them vividly, so I’m the one with the problem.
It’s especially bad when people tell me their deepest, darkest secrets, and then when they bring them up again with a serious voice a few weeks later, I have no clue what they’re talking about. I mean, maybe that makes me really really good at keeping secrets, but also, those people are incredibly vulnerable with me, and probably expect me to at least remember what they said.
I know what you’re thinking: Maybe it’s all that wine affecting your brain. True, the odds of me remembering the specifics of any conversation after 3+ glasses of wine are slim to none, but this is a regular pattern for when there’s no alcohol involved, as well. The looks of this blog are deceiving…I do, in fact, function normally without fermented grapes in my system. As a matter of fact, I don’t even drink that often. Except on my recent month-long road trip, because I felt like a bad guest if I didn’t have a glass of wine with my hosts. (Yes, I can see that perhaps I’m making lame excuses for my wine intake right now…)
I like to assume I’m not alone with most things in life, though. There’s just no way I’m the only one who has memory issues. As far as the recycled conversations go, it’s not that I remember having the same conversation, and just can’t place the when or where. No, I fully don’t have any recollection whatsoever of having that conversation ever before, but I assume that a similar conversation must have occurred in my past simply because the subject is so obvious. Like right now, I am talking about the fact that I probably have recycled conversations, and I don’t remember ever talking about this subject with anyone before. But I’m sure I have. Whoa, that sentence was like a dream within a dream.
The human mind is an odd little booger. I wish I was a steel trap of information, but at the same time, I’m really glad that I don’t remember a lot of things, because it makes each “new” conversation or event all the more interesting. Kind of like a goldfish– each time around the bowl is a new experience. Or like my favorite cartoon character of all time, Dory from Finding Nemo.
While specific memories might be lost somewhere in my mental dumpster, the feelings associated with those memories remain. I still feel close to the people that I’ve had deep conversations, even if I can’t remember the conversations that made us feel close. The things I learned from certain experiences or interactions somehow stay with me, affecting my core attitude, beliefs, tendencies, and thought processes.
It may sound harsh that I can’t recall exchanges, or as though I don’t invest enough energy into listening and absorbing moments, but I promise that’s not the case. I like to think of myself as someone who is pretty good at being present. Not always, but mostly.
If anything, the fact that I don’t remember 50% of conversations and happenings makes me all the more aware of how my words and actions can internally affect a person’s outlook on the world. They may not remember my name, what we talked about specifically, or even where we were…perhaps they don’t remember interacting with me at all…but just as I’m positive that my forgotten history has shaped me into the woman I am, I know that the way I interact with them has the potential to subtly shape them, as well.
So remember, people, our subconsciouses are busy absorbing everything, even when our brains aren’t. Let that motivate you to be a mystery source of positivity in other people’s lives, and to soak in the lessons and good parts about your every day experiences, as well. As for the conversations about bobby pins and child care and heartache, take each recycled conversation for what it means to you in that moment– even if that just means you get to laugh about it for a second time. Seems like a pretty good deal to me.