Monday, 4 January 2010

I try to remember things

rather than write them down. My family keeps telling me I have a good memory. I am not sure about this. I do forget things! I also know that, for me, remembering is a matter of necessity. When I was much younger and writing anything down was an enormous challenge it was simpler easier to remember things. I was lazy. The act of writing got in the way of what I wanted to say. It was easier to simply remember it and, if I was fortunate, someone else might write it down for me. That did not happen often. I got into the habit of remembering things.
By the time I was about ten I could write things down but it was never terribly satisfactory. It took too long. I wanted a typewriter. My mother was set firmly against it. I would, she said, never learn to write legibly if I had a typewriter. It was, she said, only a matter of setting my mind to it. I could do it. I could not. I went on remembering things.
Even when I did get a typewriter I found I had to remember things. I had to remember things and then discard them. During my secondary and tertiary education I would remember things for long enough to pass the necessary examination and then, unless I was interested enough to remember, I would discard the information.
I can no longer remember most of my mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, dates in history or geographical formations. Ask me to analyse a character and comment on the structure of a poem and I would be lost. I assume I use those skills sub-consciously. I can add up figures without a calculator but that is purely mechanical. In recent years I have only occasionally needed to do the statistical procedures I somehow managed to learn at university. I have forgotten how to do trigonometry and calculus.
I can remember what is important to me or what will help me do those things which are important to me or things which are important to daily living. I remember things I have taught myself but not many of the things I have been taught. I remember shopping lists and appointments and dates of absences of neighbours whose mail needs to be collected - and then discard them. I do not really know these things.
I remember some Latin, how to read the treble line in music, how to use a Welsh dictionary, the basic moves in chess but I cannot translate Cicero or read an orchestral mss, write a sentence in Welsh or the opening gambits I was once told. So, what do I really know? What can I really remember?
I think remembering means knowing things, really knowing them. If that is right then I remember very little.

6 comments:

Donna Hosie said...

I live by lists. I have lists of lists I need to make. My memory is hideously poor and fails me continuously.

catdownunder said...

Do you remember to make the lists - and then where you have put the lists? :-)

Donna Hosie said...

I have a "TO DO LIST" notepad that remains next to my computer. As I spend the vast majority of my time on the keyboard, I never lose track of it!

catdownunder said...

Oh, you are so sensible Donna. We keep a homemade calendar on a cupboard and everything else gets flung on the 'fridge with magnets!

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

Memory is like breathing, stuff comes in, stuff goes out. You don't remember, but it keeps you alive.

catdownunder said...

Hello Simon, glad you prowled in. It is what we remember that makes us who we are.