Wednesday, September 29, 2010


The movie Memento tells the story of Leonard, an ex-insurance investigator who can no longer build new memories. Leonard is attempting to find the murderer of his wife.

Each day, he awakes with no memory of the previous day, or of any days that have transpired since his wife's murder. In order to ensure that he never forgets the most important information, he develops a novel memory system; he tattoos himself with it. To remember people, he carries a small set of Polaroid photos.

So much of what we call dysfunction or negative emotion relies on memory.

Hate and fear are engines that consume memories as fuel. The engines that burn most powerfully are the ones with the most fuel. Without memory, the fuel exhausts and the engines stop.

In fact, all emotion is fueled by memory. Theoretically, you could control how hot each engine burns by through fuel selection.

Selective Memory Wednesday
As I thought about this, it occurred to me that it would be fun to conduct a little experiment. The first part would be to ask yourself the following questions:
What would happen if I knew that tomorrow morning, I would wake up with no memories prior to the age of ten? I would still have my skills and abilities; I just wouldn't remember anything about people or situations. What salient tidbits would I tattoo on my body? What ten photos would I keep?
Rather than simply writing them down in a list, you might draw the outline of a body and tattoo them.

The second part of the experiment would be to keep track of what memories you burn as fuel throughout the day; just jot them down each time you become aware of them. Each time you hesitate because of a past mistake, each time your face brightens at thought of your child doing something endearing, each time your blood pressure rises just a bit at thought of an injustice, write it down.

The third part of the experiment is to compare your tattoos with the memories you consumed. Are they the same? Are they different? Do they overlap at all? Why?

While writing, I played through the memories I've consumed over the past few days and I realized that there are many that I'd never tattoo or photograph, ones that I'd do well to forget altogether. So, why consume them? Why continue? Will I continue?

I also thought about the ones that would become tattoos and realized that I haven't thought about many of my tattoos in a while. Why not? What am I going to do about that?


Happy Selective Memory Wednesday!

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