Trickery of Memory

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”

When reconstructing incidents from the past, I find memories the most unreliable tool. For instance, take this one time that you found a dish at a restaurant which you could eat for the rest of your life. Then on you craved to go back to the place someday, only to have the magic recreated on your palate. But somehow the same place, the same ingredients and possibly the same chef was never able to upstage the memory you had of the original. Sounds Familiar? Or that one time, when you sat down at a table with school friends, stringing together pieces from a shared experience in the past, finding that you all remembered very different parts of the same piece, possibly even different versions. The same situations, absorbed and remembered differently, twisted and changed through filters of either time or perceptions. 

Our memories deceive, manipulate and recreate our stories sometimes accruing, other times discarding based on our personalities, based on what we need to hear.  Likewise some moments appear delicious in retrospect, through the fog of memory than they did live. They are bound both by time and emotion, where at least one of the narrators is unconcerned with the frivolity of facts, focusing only on the story telling. So we remember the laughs while the jokes that conjured them fade away. We retain the smells long after we have let go of the people who wore them. Remember the magic of certain evenings, spent lost in company while the streets that witnessed them are forgotten.

In my own life, narrating experiences, writing stories, I magnify/glorify fragments that may/may not have happened and nullify the others that most certainly did. I have often married two different incidents into one  single story because they somehow stuck together in my memory, like a pattern, like a pair. And Thank God for this power/handicap to keep/diminish at will/at convenience/in denial, because how else would lives turn into books, how else would any magic be created out of our very ordinary lives. 

And for the nth time on my blog, I leave with my exaggerated memory from the movie, ‘Before Sunrise’, where two strangers walk the streets of Vienna through a single evening, immersed in small talk, spilling magic through nameless streets. As they part ways at dawn, the movie ends with credits rolling over the shots of the same streets, now stripped of the magic of the previous night, lost forever, to be amplified/diminished only in their distinct memories. 

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