The Potential Expansiveness of Some Folks’ Memories

-As one ages, one has experienced more and has more, potentially, to recall based on sheer length and breadth of lived personal experience

-If one has travelled, one remembers special or lifetime trips as well as memorable holidays, especially with family and friends

-Speaking of the dead, those family members and friends who are remembered in the course of the day as one is conversing or looking about the house, seeing photos of them (including albums). The memories of family are expanded even more when we recall not only what a family member’s life was like, but also from what we recall of their own memories of other people and other generations.

Reading (books), listening (music, spoken word CDs, concerts) and viewing experiences (tv and film) must also be factored in. One remembers favourite songs, pieces of music, tv shows, documentaries, feature films. Images of all sorts tend to be deposited in the senses and mind, some sticking for decades. One of those images is smell, which we are told, can produce strong, vivid recalls from childhood, for instance—the smell of wolf willow from a prairie beach, for instance. Tastes, too, especially in comfort foods, evoke specific memories as well. Opening a fresh pod of peas, for instance, can send memory back to gardens or farm days.

In the case of reading, our imaginations have also been stimulated, enlarged, and even educated (Northrop Frye) through both casual and more formal school reading, particular of books and poetry. Reading fosters empathy, sympathy, and connects us to others, even those we don’t know, as in sympathy for the Maui survivors from the tragic wildfires. Any reading of history, the arts and sciences also expands our knowledge of cultures and world history, the lives of the famous and great as well as the lives of artists, scientists, and innovators. We subsume them, too, in our memory banks if we have larger subject interests and are life-long learners beyond grade 12. Thus, there are many other memories, potentially, of non-family people and fictional/movie characters we have been moved by.

-If one was born before the current age, one’s memory will contain many other historical and cultural contexts. Therefore, one may remember the sixties, wars, Hiroshima, JFK’s assassination, or the Depression. Those five examples, for instance, would subsume many unique contexts and views of life.

So, as you can see, memory need not be just confined to what has happened to oneself since birth. It may include many memories of family, friends, loved ones, pets, characters, and real-life people from other places and times. It was Walt Whitman who wrote “I am large, I contain multitudes” and the potential expansiveness of memory via fuller consciousness and awareness.

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