Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Museum of Memories

Memory is a funny thing. Certain things we retain, and others we forget. Mark Gungor compares men's brains to boxes and women's to ball of wire. See the video on Youtube.  BBC's Sherlock has a "Mind Palace" which is like some extra deep place he'll go to retrieve information stored there to solve cases.

I've decided that my mind is like a museum. It's not a particularly well-ordered and logically laid out one either. Additionally, it's got a lot of cluttered rooms and a few with almost nothing in them. My museum contains little movie clips I play over and over, snapshots of the past, and other artifacts of memory. Some memories I frequent more often, they're on display. Others are stuck in the back rooms, not particularly special, just tossed into a corner somewhere. Others are like precious, fragile treasures I hide away to protect and keep them alive, I can't share those moments right away and hardly dare look at them myself lest I damage them with rough handling.

Yet time tells on my memories and like the Mona Lisa, they fade. Rusty old swords lie in some corners. It doesn't matter how hard I try to preserve them, whether by sharing, secreting them away, or playing them over and over. The closer I look at my museum pieces, the more I notice the decay, the blurred detail on a picture, or the missing page in a manuscript. I cringe at the faded paint and the empty casing were a gem used to be lodged but has now tumbled out of its setting. I might find it eventually in some unexpected corner...

Some of my memories I don't like, they're the ugly paintings. In these cases, time is often my friend. With time the garish colors fade, the wine mellows, and the pain no longer stings the same. And they say hindsight is 20/20 vision. I can see the good that came from pain and I can savor triumphs without the suspense and agony of the moment. Success memories are like award plaques, medals, and trophies in my collection.

My memory paintings attempt to capture a moment
in time, but what is a picture to the moment itself? If I write them down, the actual moment slips away like sand through an hour glass. It's like pressing a leaf: some of the colors are preserved but the leaf is dry and brittle, and not as bright and glossy as it once was. Artifacts and crumbled journals help us see the past, but they can't take you there. Still, I catalogue my treasures and I write my journals, but it's not the same.

I cannot share my memory museum, I walk these halls alone. When I share a memory it's like giving someone a postcard from the gift-shop. It's a photocopied memory that I let others see. Just as my memories are removed from the actual moment, so too my attempts at sharing them with others are removed another step further from that moment.

It's part of  my personality, I think, to capture and preserve, document, and convey. I'm always writing or taking photos. As a Sensor (Myers-Briggs), I learn from my past experiences, through physical sensations. And I want to share what I experience. How do I capture golden drops of sunlight that flicker through my lashes on a balmy summer morning? I add another artifact (a sensation) to my collection like one adds a painting to a gallery wall. A painting expresses something of its subject, but it's not like being there, in the scene in my mind, experiencing it the way I felt it. So I describe, like a painter paints, I add my own interpretation, how I saw it, and I try to express just what that moment felt like to me.

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