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Wiser’s Wramblings-Memories Are Made For This

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Remembering and forgetting, insominia insights, and a poem for Nettie

By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels

My title is a play on the title of an old song Memories Are Made of This. For several reasons, lately, I have been thinking more and more about things I remember, and some things I don’t. Other than something ethereal or heavenly I think the one thing most important and cherished in my life is, or are, my memories. Second most I guess would be those memories held by others like my wife.

Have you ever wondered why you remember some things and some you don’t? Some are extremely important, some are trivial. Just like our modern electronic communication and memory devices there are two major divisions or components. Other than the mechanics of operation, everything related to electronic memory devices can be divided into either Storage or Retrieval. Our minds are no different. How do we get something into our memory, or how do we get it out. This is where things get a little more complicated. Fortunately, for you, I am neither educated, experienced, nor inclined to delve into the Scientific aspects of human memory. I suppose there are scientific biological reasons for the types of memories, especially short term or long term.

What goes into your “memory banks?” Nearly all your human senses are involved with putting things into your memory. Things you see. Things you feel either physically or emotionally, and things you hear. The hearing aspect is mostly positive except when you’ve heard a song that embeds itself so deeply that it comes to you even in your sleep. Singing in two organized choirs I am exposed to a significant amount of music. For some reason, unfathomable to me, some songs, or certain passages of some songs have made such a strong impression on my memory that they keep coming back to me in my sleep and I awake with the tune in my head. The problem with this is the songs don’t run from beginning to end in my subconscious but rather go from one point to another and then keep repeating almost like a record that has a scratch that makes it return to a certain spot and repeat that section.

I apologize to the younger readers who haven’t experienced, or know what, a “needle reading record” is, or sounds like. Things can even worm their way into your memory without your being aware of them. Subliminal memories are things you may not even be, nor have been consciously aware of.

Memories are powerful components of one’s life. Just as real time events can or do, the memories of those events are also the stimuli for human emotion. Memories can evoke feelings of joy, or sadness, bring smiles, laughter, or tears. How do memories find their way into the “storage” compartment or “retrieval mechanism?” For the most part storage is the primary component of the memory system, and relies on the above referenced senses. Getting things in is far easier than getting things out. A musical tune is more readily absorbed than the actual words of a song. Seeing something that has some significance, or that triggers some visual emotion, like that of a beautiful sunset, or a frosty winter scene, especially of “shadows in the moonlight,” will automatically find a place not only in your heart, but in your head. Seeing something tragic or emotionally sorrowful will find its way in, much more easily than something casually glanced or “seen, without seeing.”

The second component of memory, that being the retrieval of those things stored away. Recall is much more difficult, at least if you are consciously trying to remember. This component is also the most significant, and potentially has the most personal emotional impact, especially as one approaches the geriatric threshold of their life. Age, definitely plays a major role in the ability to retrieve any or all of the information and memories stored away. At the beginning of life our young brains are like a sponge learning new things right away, and every day. This process continues at a frenetic pace for many, many years. I have both faint memories and distinct memories of my youth. I can remember a few things that happened as young as “a couple of years old.” For reasons never fully understood by me I spent the second year of my life with an aunt and uncle in Texas. That is one of those things I never really asked, nor was told about, even later in life. I sometimes wish I had discussed more of my early childhood with my mother before her passing. I’m pretty sure it was something she was just as happy to forget about.

The age-related characteristics on the other end of the spectrum involve getting old. In many cases the results of aging can be tragic and include senility, dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease. All memory related, and none, pleasant to think about, much less experience.

Jogging our memories or tricking our brains into recalling that information stored in the memory banks can be a chore, but is a challenge I experience more and more and accept every day. From something as simple as trying to recall a word that I thought of, but the use of which is intended further into one of these sentences, to why I forgot something I said, or was told the other day, the memory challenges will continue to grow, for all of us in one way or another.

Veer #2: Only those having read and paid attention to last week’s Wrambling’s will even have a clue as to what that means. After having finished this topic, and moving on, I am now veering back to it several hours later.

Addendum @ 12:49 PM after I had put my Wrambling’s to bed for the night, but now have risen from sleeplessness to add some things I had meant to include. Having forgotten something like why I went into a room for something, then couldn’t remember what. YES, we all do that. I have a couple of memory tricks that help. If I have forgotten a person’s name, one tool I use is going through the alphabet letter by letter, trying to jog my memory with the first letter of their name.  When I hit the right letter, the person’s name will pop into my head. Another trick is “word association”. Marilyn Lester, my first “writing boss” when we both worked at the Friendship Volunteer lives on the street upon which you enter Friendship traveling from Scio. I can never remember her name on the first attempt. Unfailingly if I can remember her husband’s name “Larry,” hers comes back to me readily. Having said “Larry Lester” is more memorable, given its “sing song” sound. I can readily remember decades long events but not the time frame. My wife is a wizard at recalling not only the event, but also the date, and time that said event took place even if it was 50 years ago. Word association is an excellent tool to help the recall of things forgotten. Thinking of a word, time, or place, or who you were with, at the time of an event often is helpful. Somewhat related is a musical director’s trick of reciting an old song lyric and note progression that follows the same pattern of a new song where you might be having difficulty recalling or reaching the desired “pitch” of the notes in sequence. Some things you cannot ever forget.

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All one can ask, or hope for, is for others to be understanding and/or helpful as we all get to this part of our journey, even though we cannot remember where we came from or where we’re going.

I often mention that a good portion of my understanding of grammar is based on the intuition of what “sounds or looks right.” I recently wrote a poem for a long-time musical friend and in the last line I had used the word “Never.” After having read it several times the word just didn’t “sound right so I substituted “Ever.” That didn’t sound any better. I consulted the Grammar gods to determine which was more correct; Never or Ever. Turns out that both would be appropriate but there was a subtle difference in the interpretation of the word “Never”. It struck at the heart of what I was trying to say and the word implies “finality”. so Never remains in the poem, and “Never the twain shall meet, nor leave the station.” Sorry! A bit of corniness wormed its way into reciting that old “sage”. My wife asked me: “Who is going to think that is funny?” “Me”, I said.

A pet peeve of mine is the posting of group pictures in newsprint lately. Either the names aren’t included, which is fine, but if the names are included, I think the order of the names should be noted so that you can figure out where the person you haven’t seen in 25 years is, in the picture. It may have something to do with a privacy requirement, but the names ARE in there. Perhaps it’s just an oversight. If there is a legal issue, please enlighten me. They used to print something like “Front row, left to right,” where you could figure out who was where.

Handheld, rechargeable vacuum cleaners certainly are handy. I have one however, for which the design is puzzling. The device is relatively short and the air nozzle drawing the particles in is at the front of the vacuum. The cleaned air is expelled through the bottom of the vacuum device. The cleaner is only about a foot long, so the front intake end and the bottom rear exhaust point are close together. This inlet/outlet configuration, as designed, blows the dirt particles away as the exhausted air comes out the bottom. Yep! Clean up on aisle Wiser.

My ears have been particularly sensitive to certain sounds lately, as I am having some headache issues. When My wife begins to speak something, it sounds to me like it is loud and sharp. When I complained, she said “It’s probably your ears.” My flip return comment was: “Or what’s between them, right?” She just smiled and walked away.

I particularly enjoy writing poems for, or about, friends and acquaintances. A few weeks ago, I wrote and published a poem about a newly acquired friend, who is associated with the Grace United Church Choir. Another long-time friend lamented the fact that I hadn’t written a poem about her yet. Actually, I had. Years ago, I had started writing a poem about her when we were mutual Genesee Valley Chorus members, and one of the songs we were singing started out: 🎶🎶I am but a small voice… 🎶🎶I had never finished it until recently. Last week I refreshed my memory, finished writing it, and herein I will finish this session of Wrambling with Netties poem.

As always, I invite you to reach out to me at IM.Wiserdad@gmail.com with any comments, questions, cares or concerns, or if you would like me to write about, or research, anything that you too are, or have been, curious about. I will share it with others, as I share my words. Beneath the Wrambling’s title above is, why I write and why I am blessed to be able to do so in the SUN.

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