The brain is a wonderfully complex thing, as befits the organ required to support mind and memory that can in quick succession plan a meal, think about a show seen on a screen, forget the lyrics to a favourite song, or remember things said or done many years ago with crushing embarrassment.
Like, I suspect, most people who might read this I have things I’d rather not remember. I’m not talking about traumatic events, but the day to day cringe-making things we’ve said or done while under the influence of being young, naïve, over-enthusiastic, or just plain thoughtless. As much as I’d like to believe I’ve moved on, grown, learned lessons, or otherwise got a grip on life that I didn’t before, my thought processes do delight in
occasionally repeatedly flashing embarrassing moments onto the screen of my mind’s eye when I’m least expecting it.
If these mental coshes came with captions, they would probably be along the lines of: “hey, remember that dumb and slightly hurtful thing you said twenty years ago? Here it is again, and I’ll bet the person you said it to is still pissed at you.”
All I can do, of course, is shake my head and carry on. For the first part I can’t go back in time to change anything. For another, the significance of many of these recollections is so trivial as to be vanishingly relevant to life and the people now in it. The people for whom there have been lasting impacts have either had it out with me already or have presumably moved on. Should they then come back, well that’s something to address if they do.
But that doesn’t stop my wonderful mind from carrying on. My consolation is that most other people experience the same thing too, based on many many conversations, not to mention innumerable jokes, memes, and cartoons online or in popular culture. For the most part it’s just part of that background chatter in our consciousness as we process our places in the world.
What’s put my mind on this track? Well I recently opened an old journal I kept when I was descending into deep depression fourteen or fifteen years ago. I’d completely forgotten about it, but reading the flat prose and extremely distorted views within it has shaken loose more than a few memories on that mind’s eye theatre. I’m currently debating whether to throw that old journal away, or to keep it as a record of how ill I was, and how uncomfortable I must have been to be around in that illness.
I honestly don’t know which way I’m going to jump on this one – I’m trying to analyse if shame and injured pride are a good enough reason to discard a part of my history.