The Strange Nature of Memory

Sometimes I feel like I’m remembering life, that I’m actually quite old already, that what I think I’m experiencing actually occurred decades ago. When I have these occasional bouts of temporal dislocation it feels like I am remembering myself remember, a framed story of nostalgic, fleeting glimpses of the past. Also, during these episodes, I typically remind myself that dredging up from the depths of cognition sets of portraits of earlier days is an activity best done in moderation.

Time is so liquid, its maddening, trying to hold on, to immerse oneself in moments and contexts and people only to have it constantly running away, escaping on a current so fast and so unpredictable its often hard to tell whether existence plays out in the past or present or future or both. Achieving any sense of permanence, which involves sorting out and becoming aware of the minutiae of the mundane from the benchmark, touchstone experiences that dominate memory, is, I’ve come to believe, almost impossible.

Our sense or ‘permanence’ is tied up in notions and preconceptions of time. Minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades – they all possess value relative to each other. Minutes are short and years are long. It seems obvious, intuitive, logical. I don’t really think it is though. Ten years goes by as fast a single minute, but a decade must elapse before that statement becomes valid. Once the time is gone it is all equal. But that also works for the future. The future is, essentially, the past. All time is identical depending upon where it is located on the spectrum of individual perception.

The way I see it, there is only one small difference between past and future: namely, and obviously, the present, which expands and contracts in relation to the context of events we live through. That bubble encompasses memories, anticipations, experiences, and events that remain cognitively latent or tangible in some way.

And thats really all I have, I’m not sure how I wrote so many papers in graduate school but that was exhausting and probably doesn’t make much sense. In summary: the experience of Time, of moving through whatever fabric comprises temporality, is confusing as hell, it is fast and slow and instanteous  all at once and in general a major trickster.

I can ‘remember’ ten years in five seconds, but that act of recollection does not account for the entirety of that time, for every action and thought, every period of happiness or anger, its a summary, and the way we interpret those summaries of the past renders everything preceding the present

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