Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dump ur memories!!!

I had originally thought of calling this post “The science of forgetting”, which would have been as deeply meaningful as all that follows but so drab that it probably would have let you continue in your blissful ignorance. So the new title – a call for action like that of Ulysses’ call to his men “To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.”

The most oft repeated yet least understood philosophical tagline is Carpe Diem – Pluck/seize the day. Live the moment! It seems impossible to do that when you have your memories intact, for the simple reason that you or rather your mind, your personal database management system (pDMBS), is loaded with so many GBs of old, dusty memories which are instantaneously retrieved based on the tags generated for the current situation and compared with ‘now’, to make you miserable. To put it in simple terms, you are overloaded with your past! Though your gurus wouldn’t ask you to be a ghajini, remembering not more than 15 min of your past, they put it rather more poetically and beautifully - “Be like a child”.

Becoming a child is one of those successfully marketed philosophical sutra. More often than not, we tend to fondly romanticize the “good old days of our childhood” and go gaga over the “absolute bliss and freedom” that we enjoyed then. Were we really “happy and free” children? An utterly honest answer would be “No” and a workable one would be “Not always”. This apparent bliss of childhood is rather a result of selective filtering and processing of the data that was available. Basically, we tend to remember the “good/emotionally pleasing” memories of our early days.

So when do we lose “the child inside us”? It is when our memories start working full steam and when we lose our control on what we choose to remember. To be precise, it is when we unconsciously choose not to actively control what we remember. In the pursuit of “reality”, we cram our minds with all kinds of memories – more often, we store the most unpleasant ones, that too indelibly by consistently reinforcing those memories.

Life would be a lot simpler if we know what not to remember and choose to forget them. Sounds too simple huh? Yeh, most often, truth is so simple that its very simplicity leads us away from it. Let me explain.

Human memory is not as efficient in storage as those that man himself created. Unlike your computer’s hard disk, the data-write speeds of your brain are pretty low. Probe deeper, you will find that your memory acts more like a volatile storage device, particularly in the short term and thankfully so. It needs be powered/reinforced to move the short term data to the dusty archives, where it is stored for a longer time.

Reinforcement – there lies the key. So forgetting is all about choosing not to reinforce. You can choose what to reinforce and what not to. So you can choose not to reinforce the memory of how unceremoniously you were turned down by that horrible female when you finally made yourself propose to her. Or you can choose not to reinforce the cold reaction from your darling when you went out with a new friend of yours.

But, you ask, Why at all should I make that choice? Better make it for yourself, before your faulty pDMBS makes it for you.

As Abraham Maslow put it elegantly "We can consider the process of healthy growth to be a never ending series of free choice situations, confronting each individual at every point throughout his life, in which he must choose between the delights of safety and growth, dependence and independence, regression and progression, immaturity and maturity."

So where’s your progress report?

3 comments:

Sara said...

Sk,

Maslow said it all.. it a free choice to create a chance to remember new thoughts or still defy oneself of new choices by drowing in memory.

:)

Laughing at the power of memory !

Ji-Know said...

This one was really simple yet profound.... So me posting a comment ;)... The "be like a child" ideology is a truly a neat way of being blissful.... Bringing out the child like qualities from within, sometimes helps in carpe diem...
I also quite relate to this statement of yours- "In the pursuit of “reality”, we cram our minds with all kinds of memories – more often, we store the most unpleasant ones, that too indelibly by consistently reinforcing those memories. " . There are times in recent past, i try to not have any negative thoughts and only recollect or think of postive thoughts.. but to my horror, every moment seems like a struggle...but then i dont want my faulty pDMBS to do the work... and so i will TRY... to be like a child.......... ;)

Sowmya said...

hey..very nice post

\\** Life would be a lot simpler if we know what not to remember and choose to forget them. Sounds too simple huh? Yeh, most often, truth is so simple that its very simplicity leads us away from it. **//

:)