Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Sublimity of Memories

Think about this. If the human brain remembered everything, it would take you as long to remember something as it did to experience it. If you dredged up a memory of an afternoon at the park your brain would call up random thoughts, smells, noises and sensory stimulus that you experienced while you were at the park. It would take another afternoon of equal length to remember it all.
Fortunately for us, the brain goes through a constant assessment of what needs to be kept, and what can be thrown away. It puts the items that it decides are keepers on a shelf, like a book, and stores these things in an amazingly efficient manner. I would imagine that some of the things that your brain stores will never be called into play again. By the same token, something could trigger your brain to take a memory off of the shelf that has been collecting dust there for decades. Good or bad, this triggering process pulls a memory off the shelf and shows it to your conscious self whether you like it or not.
These shelves in your brain are a cabinet of curiosities within itself. Not even you have a good grasp on what this wunderkammer contains. You are the curiosity and the curious. All due to the sublimity of the human mind.
The fact that I very much enjoy visiting antique shops is a direct result of this concept. More than the enjoyment of the hunt and the purchase, I enjoy these shops because they are a rich source of triggers. I can visit these shops all day and never find anything I would like to own, but it is never a day wasted.
Games and toys may trigger childhood memories, magazines newspaper and music take you to specific times and places in your life, and certain items may remind you of people you cherish or people you had not thought about for years. These shops supply the triggers that allow me to look inside my own cabinet, to look for things that I may have forgotten were there.
I very seldom go through an antique shop without smiling to myself at least once. A pleasant memory is worth its weight in gold. When you are sharing these memories and thoughts in the company of someone you love, all the better.

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