In our minds, the wheels turn, playing our memory tracks over and over again. They get scratchy. Begin to sound dated. Begin to sound foreign. And yet, in remembering, we continue to identify with past times. Past versions of ourselves, even as we evolve and the wheels turn and churn and burn for new recordings. Like the girl from the movie, The Ring, our past selves haunt the tape spools of our minds, and yet we can’t resist watching, even in horror.
In the following poem, I note that when we remember something, we are actually remembering a memory of that memory…of a memory of a memory, as we continue to replay that past recording from our life in our minds.
A memory of a memory.
An old Memorex tape — played out and worn.
And yet the images are somehow enhanced.
The plot and story line, so dramatic. —
Distracted from the moment at hand.
So hard to say goodbye.
And yet so cathartic too,
to rip the ribbon from its spools.
Lighter, my heart now — a happier fool.
Of course some memories are great and we want to enjoy them. Even so, the memories still get distorted.
These days, we have social media to help keep us stay trapped in a loop of re-remembering. Remember the days when recordings were all on tape? Remember the memories? It used to be the case that if we didn’t like the recording anymore, we could just rip the tape apart. What if we could rip them out of our minds too?
Now, with advances in biotechnology and the like, it could be possible. But would we really want to do that, even with unpleasant memories? Would be want to lobotomize ourself in that way? If truly paralyzed by past experiences, as with some cases of PTSD, it may seem like a reasonable option. Otherwise, we could risk loosing important aspects of our identity or even becoming susceptible to repeating past mistakes we’ve forgotten. We are a composite of many parts and memories both good and bad. All of our experiences contribute to who we are.
However. Keeping one’s memories should not inherently mean remaining a slave to them. In the above poem, I say “rip the ribbon from its spools.” It is a cathartic act. I might also say that we can “cut our umbilical cord from the past.” While our history gives birth to us, we can still become our own self in relation to it—visiting from time to time as we do with mother. Now, we just don’t have to continually feed off of her.