You Are the Echo of Memories You’ve Forgotten ($)
Your memory is not about what happened, it's about who you can be now.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
— Mark Twain
Memories are different from associations. Memories are snapshots and associations are the connections between them. Most of our memories are combinations of both that trigger each other and extend in various directions to the limit of our usually shallow interest and ability to hold related ideas.
A continuous memory, something like a video, is a series of memories sequential in time. No memories are as continuous as a film or audio. Our memories are more like a quilt of patches connected in more than three dimensions.
If your memories were presented to you as you actually experience them, it would drive you crazy. You wouldn’t know what was real. We accept the twisted spaghetti of our memories in the same way that we accept the fantasies of our dreams.
We remember aspects of events, bits of pictures, elements of meaning and implications. I remember few sounds, and those that I can are more like words with feelings and not audible sentences. I remember feelings associated with circumstances.
My smartphone takes still pictures with half second videos attached. This is how I remember most images, with a bit of motion, but only enough to orient my attention. I remember even the most emotional experiences as a series of short videos lasting only as long as the peak of my focused attention, which barely amounts to half a second.
These memories, taken by themselves, lack connections, and it’s only the larger recollections—situations along with their associations—that trigger our thoughts and feelings. Associations bind the collage of thoughts and feelings into relevance. The lines of these collages craze outward like the fractures of a struck glass pane. Cameo tapestries and tree-like extensions—not at all like waves—dominoing outward.
Memories are lightening storms, metaphorically and neurologically. Even the softer ideas that come during meditation are distant thunder. They are never like ocean waves, whose continuity, expanse, and even textures impress us. But beneath these memories are layers of textures, only the peaks and whirlpools of which catch our attention.
Without associations, memories are a random jumble. Lunatic collages; abstract mixtures of fear and longing disconnected from the tempo of waking life. Dreams are much more a reflection of our real selves than is our waking personality. They follow the pathways through emotional mountains we’re not willing to travel. You create the reality you imagine, and there are many things we won’t dwell on because of what they release.
Your Personality Is Not In Motion, It’s in Neutral
At this moment, you are your full and normal self. You will act and react to events in ways that are typically and predictably you. You aren’t aware of or remember anything outside the current moment until you’re triggered by some direct or associated event. We graze in our outward focus and, when something illuminates us, we are deer in the headlights. Thinking is largely an involuntary act.
Science offers useful exercises because its ideas purport to be logically connected. Like jigsaw puzzles, science offers a pallet of problems with missing pieces you can think about. Scientists are people who prefer well-phrased problems over the illogical problems of life.
The attraction of logical puzzles is the illusion that we experience a logical world. That’s a comfortable illusion, which is what religion offers. “Spiritual bypassing” is the phrase used to describe the substitution of dogma for judgement, which results in a disabled-follower mentality.
Logical puzzles can offer intellectual bypassing, which results in a disabled-leader mentality. This happens when we accept other people’s rules instead of crafting an understanding from our own experience.
People enjoy these exercises. Sometimes we indulge in them as games. At other times, we insist we have real insight, but these games are not constructed in the ways we construct ourselves.
Games allow us to evaluate our moves and find rewards at their conclusion. Life is not structured in this way. Our attraction to simple conflicts reflects our animal nature. In the 30,000 years we have been with dogs, we have become like them. We have learned to succumb to conditioning.
We chase contrived puzzles in the way that dogs chase cars, instinctively and with enthusiasm. These recreations exercise our preconceptions and our inclination to put things in order, but otherwise serve no real purpose. I’m a strong believer in the fertility of chaos over predictability. Order is good when things stay the same, but repetition teaches us not to pay attention.
I can help you recognize your potential.