Why is that we forget some things easily and some things remain with us for a lifetime? Why do some words, incidents or people provoke some certain memories? No, I am not going to be a psychologist and answer these questions. But the fact remains that memories are inherent to all human beings. There is a portion in the brain called the Cerebellum which is responsible for storing the memories. It is believed that an electric stimulus to this region will stimulate an old memory which you may have forgotten. However, we may not need something as drastic as that! Some memories remain with us forever whether we like them or not!
Like the word ‘Beautiful’ for me. Quick, what does this word remind you of? Some old flame? An actor/actress? An amazing scenery or place? A stunning piece of art? While most of you on hearing or reading this word may get an image of a beautiful girl or a handsome guy, I on the other hand remember a spelling bee contest in my 2nd standard.
There were 30 words to be spelt and the teacher would recite them one by one and we had to write our version of their spellings them down. After some tricky ones like ‘parachute’, ‘editorial’, ‘encouragement’, the word ‘Beautiful’ came. I wrote it as “Beatiful” without the U. After the test, I came out with a sense of accomplishment and triumph. On discussion with my tiny tot pals, I realized that my version of the word was incorrect. I still maintained my defense that the U is not there in beautiful. However, the English teacher being the final adjudicator, confirmed my fear. I have never forgotten the spelling of beautiful after that. I lost the contest by the way, by 1 word: BEAUTIFUL. It is funny how this word and the contest has got stuck in my memory. For me, Beautiful will always remain the fish that got away and not some petite girl. For them, I prefer the word Gorgeous, Stunning and other synonyms of The B word.
But why do I still remember it? Was the sense of failure too strong? I guess not. My best friend ( a doctor by the way)has this explanation:
When strong emotions surge through us our bodies respond by pumping adrenalin into our blood stream. In addition to preparing us to run or fight, adrenalin enhances our memories of what was happening when the emotion hit. This biological response was probably a very good feature of our species. Stories create emotions too and therefore there's no surprise that we remember the best stories, they ones that touch our hearts, make us laugh or even just create a feeling of puzzlement.
Maybe, But I am not convinced. There has to be something more philosophical, something more random behind it. If adrenalin is the reason, why do I remember the time in Goa when we did nothing but laze around on the beach? Was it the break in the monotony from office then?
Or maybe it is the thing with us Indians. We tend to narrow down and focus on our supposed lack of achievements (I'm refraining from using the word 'failure'). I have seen & heard people recount their tales of rejection with pride. I am not counting the traumatic experiences people have, but normal affairs with a tinge of sadness or a sense of failure. Indians tend to give air to their problems so as to (unknowingly) extract some measure of pity and sympathy from their compatriots.
Anyhows, memories are a great thing. They serve as a reminder to our lives, accomplishments, holidays, friends, events. But the are not the only thing; like in the movie Ghajini, the character of Aamir Khan in the movie suffers from long term memory loss and can only remember the last 10 minutes of his life. Wish my boss suffers from that!
Our short term memory is definitely better than our long term one. That is why, you may not remember this whole post but you will indeed remember the story of Dhruv & the spelling contest.
ps- There is also a song "Memory Remains" by Metallica. Recommended.