Memory Journeys: Shaking Off the Shackles of Time
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
~ Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and the Carpenter
Hmmm, is there more to memory than science can dissect? Does it go deeper, spread wider and cross barriers that defy explanation?
The first couple of lines to the classic Lewis Carroll poem popped into my mind this morning. I have no idea why. Something obviously triggered it. But I have no clue what it was.
Truthfully, I didnâ€™t even remember the origin of the lines. I had to Google them to discover the source. Obviously, I read â€œThe Walrus and the Carpenterâ€ at some time in my life and it made enough of an impact for the lines to stay with me.
Science tells us that memory is all about chemicals in the brain and that it follows a clear three step process. Step 1: Encoding. Step 2: Storage. Step 3: Retrieval into our consciousness.
But Iâ€™m not particularly satisfied with that clinical explanation. Memory is a strange and elusive thing that Iâ€™m not convinced science can contain. Yes, we know there are different kinds of memory â€“ sensory, short term and long term. But that only scratches the surface of this wonderful ability we possess.
There are, of course, many, quite utilitarian aspects of memory We remember telephone numbers, computer passwords, names of people and places, mathematical equations, how to operate a car etc. Iâ€™m content to let science reduce these instances to chemical reactions.
But there is a deeper, more emotionally charged aspect of memory that defies scientific explanation. Iâ€™m inclined to believe that bits and pieces of our life experience actually live on in within us. Distinct chunks of reality which shake off the shackles of time and become, in some sense, immortal. Taking us on living journeys of recollection.
We donâ€™t simply remember these experiences. We actually relive them over and over. Moments of overwhelming joy or peacefulness, grief or despair, which are imprinted somewhere other than in our brain. Whatever your conception of the soul may be, this is where I believe these memories reside.
So letâ€™s distinguish between factual memories and soulful memories. Chemical codes in the brain and living entities in the soul. But donâ€™t mistake me. These two distinct types of memories are not mutually exclusive. Oh no, not at all.
There is, I`m certain, an interconnectedness and interdependency between factual memories and soulful memories. A certain smell, or sound â€“ or the fragmented lines of a poem â€“ that send you back through time to a precious experience in all its living colour and vividness.
Alas, memory falters as we age. The connection between those lines in â€œThe Walrus and the Carpenterâ€ and the experience to which it is tied, are broken. I can`t trace the interdependency which saddens me a bit.
But I think this is why I trade in metaphors. Metaphors are another tool for memory. Another bridge to connect me to the precious moment long passed when the chemical reaction can`t do the trick anymore. Metaphors have a life of their own. And for that, I am truly grateful.
~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of â€œUntil the Deep Water Stills â€“ An Internet-enhanced Novelâ€ â€“ double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michaelâ€™s website at www.mdyetmetaphor.comor the novel online companion at www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog.
~ Follow Michaelâ€™s Metaphors of Life Journal aka Things That Make Me Go Hmmm regularly at this site. Categories: Shifting Winds, Sudden Light, Deep Dive, Songs of Nature, Random Acts of Metaphor. Originating at www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog2.
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