Why do we remember certain memories and not others? I ask myself. Then I started reading (yes, anything but books that actually help me write my thesis).
Several theorists agree that our brains are conceptually similar to a blackboard. Try writing on it with a chalk while putting pressure on certain points and erasing it afterward. The pressure points will leave a mark while the ones written without pressure could be easily erased.
The same goes with memory. Freud seems to think that emotional turmoil are the pressure points and time 'erases unpressurised' memory. Therefore, the memories that are embedded with emotional meaning, be it despair, anger, sadness or happiness, will leave memorable marks in our brains.
Others argue that memories are tagged with major events. Memories of our life before moving to another place is more memorable than the memories obtained from the same environment since childhood to adulthood. Both of them make sense, I think (well, if they didn't make sense no one would cite them).
I have several childhood memories which before reading of these concepts of memory I had thought to be random.
I remember my parents taking me and my sister to NASA (I honestly can't remember if it was the museum or the visitor's centre) when we were little. I could remember the miniature rockets, cockpits and simulators. Our parents bought us pop up books of airplanes. Then on lunch, my Mom handed me over some funny looking cookies. There were three colours, pink, white and brown.
"What are these?" I asked.
"Ice cream for astronauts," my Mom answered.
I thought they tasted like sweetened talcum powder. I then decided that I didn't want to become an astronaut because the food sucks.
After the disaster dry ice cream I had suspicions that my Mom made up the story to make me eat them. But apparently my sister, who was then at an age where these fibs would no longer work, said that she was telling the truth.
And then there was the other memory. Reinforced through life values, which meaning is deeper and more instilled than I had originally thought.
I was around 4 years old. I remember what I wore, I remember where we were. I remember the humid weather and the bright flowers. I remember my Mom gave me and my sister strawberry bubble gum while we met with Tante Emi. And I remember, upon that generating of more saliva during the first few chews of the bubble gum, the best part, when it was still very sweet, that it dropped out of my mouth.
I cried like nobody's business and asked my mother for a new one, which was, I knew, not expensive. She patted my back instead and let me cry over the lost bubble gum.
When I was in my early 20s, I saw that picture (my guess is that my Dad took it, why I wouldn't know). The picture of such heartbreaking tragedy, and the memories came flooding back to me.
"I remember this," I said to her about a picture of me crying my guts out and my mom patting my back with a 'rolling her eyes' mimic on her face, "I dropped my bubble gum. Why didn't you just buy me a new one?"
She smiled and said, "You needed to learn that you can't get everything in life. Sometimes you just have to let go, sometimes you can't have it all. I did the same with Kainda. Mama inget dia pernah nangis-nangis sambil jongkok depan etalase toko mainan. Mama ngga tega banget. Tapi Dad bilang Kainda harus belajar ngga bisa dapet semua yang dimau."
These are my parents, whom I love with all my heart, whose names I mention in all my prayers. Whose kindness and selflessness will always shame me into doing the 'right' thing.
I love you with all my heart.
I love you with all my heart.