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September 28, 2018

Memory recall is a uniquely human trait. While other animals certainly have a memory, we alone are able to recall at will things from the past for learning and mere pleasure. Our memories last our entire lifetime but are often obscured a bit as time moves on.

I can plainly remember a time in Oceanside, California when as a youth of 16 years, I and my friends rode on the backs of  marine whales. We would paddle up to them silently on our surfboards, coast a bit and then jump on their backs for a quick ride. Out of all of those who participated, I seem to be the only one that can recall the incident. It was over 50 years ago and yet I remember the whole affair clearly as if it were yesterday. That fact that I can remember this when others can’t only means that I must have thought it important enough to file it away in the high priority part of my memory bank.

Other times in my life are a bit hazy. Things that I should remember such as people’s names often escape me. This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about people’s names. It is just that name recall is a lower priority than emotional recall in my life. Others are different and have memories that work the other way around. They may not recognize the face but they can cough up the name instantly.

Whatever things from the past that we may wish to recall, we rely on our memory function. Lately there have been dozens of products that claim they improve memory. I personally consider these products bunk. However, I would suggest that memory, like our entire body, needs regular exercise. A light workout every day is needed to keep our memory in shape. One of the best exercises I know of is to simply sit and try to recall specific events from yesterday to decades ago. A good 15 minute workout every day helps keep us sharp.

These are some of my observations. What are yours?

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  1. I’ve read studies showing that every time we recall a memory, we “refile” it in some slightly different version. I’ve learned that my memories cannot be trusted to be 100% accurate, nor can anyone else’s. I come across examples all the time, where I have a diary entry or trip journal to point out the errors in my recall.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have a better long term memory than almost anyone I know. It’s the “what did I have for breakfast” thing that has me wishing sometimes that I was a Borg. (I know – Resistance is futile!)

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I remember that I “misremembered” the name of a song I heard last night at a music event. Bottom line: My memory ain’t what it used to be! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m intrigued by the phenomenon that clears the memory upon a question, and the answer comes flashing by much later; but should there be no pen by paper to write upon, the newly recalled kernel is lost again.

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  4. Reblogged this on allenrizzi and commented:

    Thursday Thoughts…


  5. There are phenomena of memory that I really don’t understand. I just try to cope with it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A great post Allen. I have had a similar memory recall that neither of my friends remember. As you say it is clear as a bell in my mind! Another interesting note. When my father-in-law had Alzheimer’s he could remember clearly many of his childhood memories, but forgot we were there as soon as we left!

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