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The mind is a terrible thing.   —   The Social Experience

They say that people only use 10% of their brains. What is the other 90% of the brain doing? Resting? Storing information? Living another life with a second family in Minnesota? So it seems remarkable to me that I don't remember everything about the relatively short life that I have lived. Memories of ages 0-5 are completely gone, lost in one of the dark shadows or deep crevices of that tricky spongy machine. Memories of ages 6-18 are spotty. I remember certain days or occasions, I remember life in general, I remember people and places and things, sure. More notably I remember smells, textures, landscape, atmosphere, and my surroundings. I've never really given it much thought, never really questioned my memory as perhaps all people remember their past in such a way? But recently, through the powers of Facebook, I've put my memory into deep reflection and what I've discovered is an abyss of empty time.

About once every few weeks I get a friend request from someone from high school that elicits the response, "Who in the hell?". I don't recognize the name, or the face, and I then dig through an old year book to only discover that I still have no idea who this person is or was. Were we friends? Do they have memories of me? Did I make some sort of impression that all of these years later they want to once again know me as a person? I didn't really socialize much in high school so it's not a large group of people that I'm pulling from my memory. Alternatively, people who I actually had friendships with in school have recently shared a detailed memory or two of a time we spent together, and almost every time I hear one of these stories my response is, huh? Are you sure that was me?

What else about my past life do I not remember? What details from this present life am I going to forget? I don't want to part with any of it. I don't want to lose the memory of cozy Saturdays spent with my husband or the way my cat's fur smells. If I can call anything in this world truly mine it is my mind, how dare it deceive me and work against me in this way! I can remember the smell and tactile details of laying in a sun beam on the carpet in the livingroom of my childhood home as I watched cartoons but I can't remember an actual vacation I took with a friend when I was 15? It's absurd.

I'm already a relatively introverted person, I spend much of my time when out walking or lazing about the apartment in deep thought. I'm creating stories in my head, crafting sentence structures, observing the small and strange ticks of human behavior, I'm reflecting on the past, dreaming of the future, playing out what if scenarios, and building brick by brick the village of my quiet little mind sanctuary. But it's no longer all that quiet. The last few months I have suffered, for some inexplicable reason, from tinnitus. And while shortly after diagnosis I seemed to tuned it out, it's now back in my head with its maddening buzz. Is it because of the recent stress? Or has it just gotten worse? I'm not sure but what I do know is that while I usually rely so heavily on the calming solitude I find in my mind, currently, I just want the fuck out.

Posted 10.4.2009 4:13:10 PM

Replies
CharlieRabbit wrote:
Two pertinent things from recent learnings about brain research:

1) The old "10% usage" line turns out to be a myth. As far as can be told, most of it is used over the course of a person's life, and there's a great deal of redundancy.

2) Sleeping 8 hours a night or more enhances memory, as one of the apparent functions of sleep is the data dump of short-term memory into long-term. In fact, the more we learn about sleep, the less we think it's about physical exhaustion and regeneration. The biggest reason for sleep seems to be overall maintenance of the mental software. Was your sleep shitty as a teen? If so, it could be the very reason.
Posted 10/4/2009 5:10:49 PM
N@ wrote:
Emotionally charged events are always more memorable, and you'd be surprised how faulty memory is. Green things turn red, people's faces and actions change...lots of fun warping occurs over time. You're not alone in this. I wish I could remember things better. But, on the up side, I've heard that you can exercise it like anything else - lots of mental activities that sharpen brain function (puzzles like crossword and sudoku)can help you retain info and actually repair old neural connections that may have been lost over time. There is a theory that you never forget anything, and that it is all about how your brain links the information it has stored. That's why in dreams things you think you've never seen, or places/faces from long ago show up. It's all unproven still, but it makes sense in a way. So now that you've reached the weight goals maybe you can start on mental exercise. :)
Posted 10/5/2009 1:19:24 PM
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