I have a terrible memory.
Very little seems to lodge there. Like the time a tramp slept in my car. I’d forgotten about that until reminded recently. My friend and I went to pick it up from town only to find the boot ajar, back seats down and the whole thing reeking of cigarette smoke.
Actually, it’s not quite true that I have a terrible memory. I have great implicit memory. We all do. It’s why you can cook your favourite meal without a recipe, or tie your shoe laces. Implicit memory is used in building motor skills, what you might call muscle memory. The repetition of a task, the practicing of an instrument, over and over, on an ever-refining path towards mastery. I’m a drummer, I got pretty good. No, nothing wrong with the implicit side of things.
I reckon my explicit memory is pretty titting plumb as well. Well, an aspect of it is, my semantic memory. You don’t get to be a The Chase™ champion without an aptitude for the conscious storage and recall of data, the conjuring of isolated facts independent of context. My insatiable competitive drive and dependency on shots of quick-win external validation see to that.
But it’s the other side of explicit memory – the episodic side – where my blindspot becomes blindingly easy to spot. I just don’t tend to lock in spatial or temporal data – sensations, emotions, personal associations of a particular time or place. Events pass through uncaptured, instances of hijinx, chance encounters with oddballs, none of them leave their echo. I have a terrible autobiographical memory. I could never be a raconteur. Or a spy.
Which is why folks keep journals, take photos, ceaselessly tell their stories to others, I suppose. We must curate ourselves, bring the patchwork of the past to bear on the present, to forge meaning, make sense. A mind alive only in the perpetual moment is either the heaven of the enlightened Yogi or the hell of the dementia-addled aged. Funny that.
My name is…wait…this is ridiculous, my name…anyway, my name is my name and I have a terrible autobiographical memory.