Memory is like our own personal treasure that we get to carry around with us every day of our life. We may not be using it all every day, but it’s there.
This treasure is also part of what makes us who we are. Of course, I’m largely speaking about autobiographical memory. However, the other types of memory contribute to who we are in their own ways. I find it beautiful that we can have this chest with us all the time, and whenever we need something, we only need to open one of its drawers, and there it is!
Of course, there are times when this is not the case. There are times when we want to find something, but we don’t know where to look for it. So we open drawer by drawer, hoping it’s in one of them. If we find it, we feel happy. If we don’t we get frustrated and angry. More so if what we needed was something important. Then, there are the cases when we need something, but it’s simply not anywhere in our chest. It may be the case that it got thrown out accidentally. Or maybe we haven’t put it in any drawer in the first place.
The thing with these scenarios is this: there is still hope. Yes, we couldn’t remember that thing, despite having tried really hard for a good half of a day to recall it. Frustrating? God! To no ends!! Hopeless? No, not at all…In fact, even when we haven’t remembered something we thought we did, we can just try to do it again. Maybe the method was wrong, we were tired, or we weren’t paying enough attention. These things can be fixed.
But what happens when we can’t open a drawer? What happens when we know the information is there, but we can’t get access to it, because the drawer got stuck? Then, even when it becomes unstuck again, we start having a sense of dread at the idea that perhaps the problems will start escalating, and soon we will no longer be able to open the drawers at all. Then, we will be stuck, standing in front of a treasure that’s locked forever, right in front of us.
And then there are worse cases. There are cases in which the chest itself starts to disintegrate, little by little, and all we can do is look at it and wait. The passing of the time, for all it’s worth, becomes more than an enemy: it turns into a torturer, which pushes us to a place where we don’t want to be. In certain cases, this torturer blinds us to the final outcome. It destroys the chest, without letting us see that the chest is slowly disappearing. A big defining feature of who we are is taken away, and we may not know.
This is the case in Alzheimer’s disease. Memory is slowly, but steadily disintegrating, and the patients are not even aware of it. They don’t know that they don’t remember, and so they become easily frustrated and even angry. Their treasure is taken away, and they don’t even know they’re losing it.
Today’s post was a little out of the ordinary for this month’s topic, but I didn’t want to end the challenge without mentioning the absence of memory. Just as we do with many other things, we tend to take the ability to remember for granted. I know because I do it too often. However, I hope that you’ll join me in appreciating the blessing our memory is.