On the Persistence of Real Memories

Apr. 24, 2020

(On “Remember Day” – from the Rally Point ‘site’s “Colonel’s Motivational Quotes of the day”, 4/24/2020)

I love the Brian Tracy quote (“Always give without remembering and always receive without forgetting.”); I’m incorporating it into my Gibbs-like life SOP.

Here’s another much more light-hearted version of a quote about memory, attributed to Sam Clemens (Mark Twain):

“When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now, and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened.”

Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Cops, Professors, teachers, and old people of sound mind will tell you that memory is a slippery and unreliable thing, only tangentially related to the actual events in our personal histories.  The further back in time the “happenings” we are remembering, the less the correlation between the overall reality of those happenings and our memories of them.  There is a plethora of research and experience to back my assertion.

After all, our perceptions of current events around us already is severely limited by the limitations of our senses, our focus and situational awareness (SA), and filtered thru our prejudices and preoccupations, so we aren’t even fully and accurately experiencing the events of our lives, much less forming accurate memories of them. However, there is one part of human memory that tends to be persistently accurate, to the end of normal consciousness:  we remember how things made us FEEL.

When the events made us experience terror, horror, revulsion or any other form of strongly negative psycho-spiritual emotional reactions; the strength of those feelings can become a memory lodged in our psyche and continuing to darkly color our perceptions, SA, and the memories we’re currently forming; this is Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), and the disorder of bad emotional memories overwhelming current experiences in such a way as to block the positive aspects of them is PTS-Disorder (PTSD).

This persistence of accurate memories of our emotional reactions to traumatic events, ironically, can make our experiences of current happenings that are normal or even potentially positive, and our future memories of them, seem, inaccurately, more negative or even traumatic.

Consider the survivor of abuse who flinches from an attempted loving touch from another as a more obvious example.

For those of us who have survived abuse, neglect, life-threatening injuries or illnesses, or other forms of traumatic physical/psycho-spiritual damage, looking and remembering what brought us thru those things and the lessons learned from them helps reduce the bad impact of powerful emotional memories and shift them toward positive and triumphal attitudes. 

The catalysts for this transformation are Faith, Hope, and Love.  And the strongest and most persistent of those three is “Agape” (Love; see 1 Corinthians 13:13), as mentioned in the Colonel’s wonderful collection of quotes for today, by Ken Poirot:  “Gifts are temporary and often forgotten; love is forever and always remembered.”

It doesn’t matter (very much) to me if you remember the author of this essay I’ve attempted to deliver as a gift to my brothers and sisters today, if you remember to Love. 

Love God and Love others as Christ loves you, put your faith and hope in Him, and the ugliest memories in your mind and soul can become the medals and hash-marks of a triumphant warrior, one who is “more than a conqueror”.  

God bless, and remember to have a wonderful weekend, unless, of course, you’ve made other plans and decisions.