Re-Creating Memories

cast 2

Here’s a memory from last summer: me in a cast.

Memory is an interesting thing.  It can be very selective, and among four people, the same event is often remembered four different ways.

The first person who remembers in the Bible is God, Himself:

I have placed My rainbow in the clouds.  It is the sign of My covenant with you and with all the earth.  When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember My covenant with you and with all living creatures.  Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life, (Genesis 9:13-15).

The person God is speaking to here is Noah.  Does that mean that God’s memory is as flawed and fluid as ours?  Not at all!  God was setting an example for us in covenant-making.  If humans made covenants with one another, based on nothing but our word (and memory thereof), there would be endless disputes.

Memory is very fluid, and the brain itself is very plastic.  This is a good thing according to a Wired article that I read recently, Learning to Forget.  The article is about a new approach to PTSD[1].  In layman’s terms, they are training people to re-write their traumatic memories with a positive or even triumphant spin.

As I read the article I realized that this is exactly what I had learned from my dad as a child.

My dad was, well, there’s no way to gloss over it: my dad was an idiot.  That’s not a criticism and it’s not a bad thing to remember about him.  Daddy’s ideas didn’t always work out the way he imagined they would.  In fact, rarely.  For example, once we were camping.  I was three and my brother was two.  It had rained overnight and our sneakers got wet.  Daddy had the brilliant idea of lighting the trash can on fire and putting the grill on top with our sneakers.

About halfway through breakfast Mom wrinkled her nose and asked, “What’s that smell?”  She and Daddy both realized what had happened: the rubber sneaker bottoms had melted.  This meant that we were going to have to cut our camping trip short.  Instead of getting upset about it, Daddy suddenly burst out laughing, which made all of us laugh.

Daddy didn’t wait for something to become a sad or bad memory, he re-wrote the memory as it was happening.  In fact, I might not have remembered this incident at all, young as I was.  But it was Daddy’s reaction that burned it into my young mind as a funny memory.

Even today, I follow Daddy’s example and look for the funny side of the dumb things I do.  In fact, I take it a step further than Daddy did by looking for the blessing in everything that happens.  If you look, there are blessings happening to you all the time.  Someone recently wrote on Facebook: Our day is booby-trapped with blessings[2].  Mine certainly is!

So I guess I not only re-write old memories, like Daddy, I re-create the new ones as they are happening.  Could this be a self-imposed Mandela Effect?  Yes, and why not?  Why not focus on the silly, funny, happy, holy goosebumpy God moments?  You only live once.  Why not celebrate your one life for all it’s worth?  God is good!

[1] Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

[2] If you’re the person who wrote that, please let me know.  I would like to properly attribute the quote.

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