I had a really great idea for a blog this morning – the trouble is, that was several hours ago, when we were out in the car so I couldn’t jot down any notes, and now I’m home I can’t for the life of me think what it was. Talk about frustrating! Of course, what makes it worse is the fact that a forgotten memory like this always seems so much more important, until you remember it! Then you realise just how bland and unexciting it actually was, (except on this occasion of course – I know this idea I had really was a winner; let’s hope I remember it before I finish writing this, then I can include it!)
I find this sort of thing happens to me more often now than it did years ago and I must admit I wondered sometimes if I was sinking slowly into the murky world of the Alzheimer’s sufferer, but I’ve had some tests, which point to a healthy brain, so I can relax a little on that score. I was told that this sort of short-term memory loss is very common in older people like me, in fact apparently it isn’t memory loss at all, it’s merely the fact that, having lived for such a long time (83 years in my case) our brains which, like a computer, never erase anything, but store all your experiences in more and more crowded files, until you reach a stage where the brain takes a while to find something. I’m quite happy to accept that explanation, especially if it’s true, and all our lifetimes of experiences are stored there.
It’s rather nice to think that somewhere in my head is a memory of being born and the dreadful shock of cold air on my tiny body after nine months in a warm, cosy womb, or the first meeting with my parents – massive monsters hovering over tiny me, but radiating feelings of love and affection, all aimed in my direction. Or the excitement I must have felt when I suddenly found I could stand up (as long as I had something to hold on to), just like them, followed a little later by the decision to take a few steps and really feel like a human being at last.
Luckily, by the time we reach five years, our minds don’t just store information, they collect it avidly, soaking up new words and new ideas at a phenomenal rate, ideas that will remain with us, on the surface of our brains for the rest of our lives – think of the two-times tables and the alphabet, plus a lot of other ‘standards’ that we have all used virtually every day of our lives, since we were taught them in our first years at school. Then a little later on, the spirit of team-ship, honesty and trust, notions that most of us don’t have to think about at all, they’re just there, like that two-times table.
With approaching adulthood came the turmoils of new hormones, new instinctive feelings towards members of the opposite sex, who you had really never noticed existing until now. Thank goodness we got through that stage fairly quickly, it could have taken up more space than our poor brains could handle I think. Fortunately most of us learned to recognise the effect and its power over us all and we formed lasting relationships. Think back very carefully and you’ll gradually uncover a long list of names hidden away in your head, names of girls you loved, friends you respected and the myriad things you all did together, mundane things maybe in retrospect, but weren’t they all enormously important at the time?
Yes, there’s no doubt about it, we keep our brains exceedingly busy all the time. Even when we’re asleep, it still ticks over, creating dreams to amuse or terrify us, making sure our necessary bodily functions don’t grind to a halt. It’s no small wonder we can’t pull out every memory, at the drop of a hat, just when we need it, it must be like a large junk-shop in there.
Which leaves me with just two comments to make; one, at least I’ve managed to build this blog around the problem; and two, dammit, I still can’t recall what that important idea I had this morning was, let’s hope it comes back to me later and I can get another blog out of it!