Are your memories REAL?

Age gnaws at life
Without respite –
Incessantly; insidiously;
Unnerving in its non–rhythmicity:
Irregular pendulums–
Not on clocks–
Dump cold milestones:
Another wrinkle; another grey hair;
Another memory…Mark R. Slaughter, (From his poem Memories)

Have you ever noticed how time can change your memories? Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse! The old house that you were brought up in seemed so much bigger in your memory. The places that you visited seemed so far away. The people that you knew, some seemed kinder and some meaner. Time has a way of making things both greater and lesser than they really were.

Time also has a way of etching things in our memory that may never have been. Have you ever thought you were at some event or place and you can’t really remember how or when you got there? A friend of ours thought she had attended some such event and her husband insisted that she had not. They finally concluded that she might have seen some pictures of the event, known some people there and “projected” herself into the event. Her memories of being there were crystal clear, but she had never really been there. I can think of many places and events that I thought I was at but then realized I was “projecting” images and events from a book or article I had read. Over time, my mind imagined that I was part of the event. The event or place had now become part of my memory of places that I had seen or been to.

Sometimes time can change memories for the worse. People remember a negative event in their lives, perhaps someone hurt them or insulted them, and this event or person can grow in their minds until it engulfs them in anger or pity. It might have been a slight in some bygone role or some unintended rebuff from someone you cared about or whom you thought really cared about you. Or it might have been much more serious. Perhaps, it was a mother leaving an abusive relationship behind or perhaps it was a child running away from an abusive home. Over time, the negativity associated with the circumstances may grow until the only memories are filled with either anger or sadness. Our memories tend to paint things as black or white and we are often unable to see the shades of gray that really existed. People become all good or all bad.

Today I am going to wonder about the events and people in my life. Were they really what I remember them as being? Were they really that good or that bad? What if my memories are not actual projections of reality but fantasies based on hopes and desires in my mind and dreams? Do I want to change any of my memories? Do I have the power or desire to do so? What if I just let sleeping dogs lie? Is that the best solution?

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