“Our memories depend on a faulty camera in our minds.”
-Death Cab for Cutie, “What Sarah Said”
The other day I posted a riddle on the Mars Gone Mad Facebook page.
The official answer to this riddle is a memory. This is really sweet if you think about it; the fact that something so little has so much power. The problem is that I’m not so sure it really works. I’m especially bemused by that last clause about memory lasting for a lifetime.
The last few nights when I’ve been falling asleep I’ve remembered a lot I thought I’d forgotten. I remember little conversations I had with my grandmother. I remember embarrassing moments in middle school. And I remember a lot of the things in the early years of my relationship with Nikki. There is nostalgia, and a lot of it. If I try hard enough while I’m falling asleep, I can almost put myself in those memories and live in them.
The problem with memory, though, is that it is so faulty. In fact, every time you access a particular memory, you’re changing it just a little bit. People shift locations, events are merged together, and little details are changed. Essentially, memory is not what you were in the past. It’s what you are now.
There are a few terms for this, but I like making up terms for things so I call it memory entropy. Entropy means falling into chaos, and that’s an apt word to describe how memory works.
Nobody recognizes a perfect day when they are having one. It’s only in retrospect that you remember things so fondly.
Unless you fight it. No seriously you can fight memory entropy.
If you work really hard, I believe you can remember things pretty close to the way they were. For example, I remember the day I got saved when I was eight like it was yesterday. I was riding back from my cousin’s house with my grandmother. I even remember watching Tom and Jerry later that day.
I remember going to prom with Nikki back in 11th grade. In fact, I remember exact conversations. Heck, I even remember many of the songs that played on the radio.
(That’d be Swing, Swing by The All American Rejects, Take You There by Sean Kingston, and Dare You to Move by Switchfoot.)
There’s a couple of keys. First, remember exact dates. I got saved in January 1998. I first met Nikki on January 10, 2008. That aforementioned prom? April 10, 2009.
The other thing I suggest is to try to find something to remember about each day. This will not only help fight memory entropy, but will also help you lead a more fulfilling life. Every night before you go to bed, write down the best thing that happened about each day. Then, at the end of the year, you should be able to remember each day based around the one thing you’ve written down. Finally, if you’ll allow me to indulge, you really need to start a blog. Looking back on it will remind you of what you were going through when you wrote each blog post.
The last thing is this. Stop hanging out on social media. Nobody ever has nostalgia for scrolling through Facebook. You’re just aging and wasting your life away. Maybe once social media was valuable, back in the days of MySpace (and BetaWeb for me). Back then you could actually create and hold meaningful conversations. But now it’s all the same. Go make memories… stop just reading the memories of others!