The funny thing about our memory is how we view the timeline of our lives.
I was thinking recently about how I look over the past five years of my life as my most immediate history. Most of my thinking, whether it’s life decisions like having a child, getting married, changing jobs, it’s all happened over five years. When I look at my future, I look at in the same window of time.
I think this is how most people look at their lives past and future. We utilize memories for everyday life in a particular window. I think that window grows as you age. Three years ago, I wasn’t thinking about my life five years into the future. Ten years ago, I wasn’t thinking more than a year ahead of time or a year in the past.
One thing I’m also learning is that no matter how good of a memory you have, time catches up with you. Your mind, like a computer memory cache, loses places to store things. So when new memories come into play, you have to clean out other, less meaningful memories. I used to have a mind like a steel trap. I used to know details about every U.S. President. I knew the winners and the scores of every Superbowl.
I don’t any more though. I have lost many of those bits of knowledge as I’ve matured into adulthood. I’m also learning that some of the things I thought I knew, I don’t remember correctly. I thought Dallas beat Buffalo 59-10 in the 1992 Superbowl. Actually Dallas won 52-17. I forgot that Leon Lett had the ball knocked out of his hand when he was about to score. I also forgot that while Buffalo quarterback Frank Reich stepped over the line of scrimmage before making a touchdown pass, he wasn’t flagged for it and the touchdown counted.
I guess the minutia dissipates over time. Maybe that’s a good thing though. This way you keep track of the things that you really care about, no matter how long ago it happened.