Not Rememberable
© 12 Dec 2011 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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A postulate that some things are beyond our memory apparatus’s capabilities.


In my memory are a variety of oddly disembodied reactions. For example, I remember how I reacted to love for a girlfriend, but I don’t remember the love. I can bring to mind the quickened pulse, the unhesitating sacrifice of my own interests to benefit hers, even the euphoria of being in love. But I cannot remember the love itself. I am quite certain I thought myself in love, for I remember thinking that, but I can’t be certain I actually was because I don’t remember that.

This observation brings into question an assumption that seems to be integrated into our very society: we assume that our mind can remember whatever we experience. This is not the same as saying it does remember all experiences; I do not remember what cars I passed on my way to work today, but I have no doubt that the cars I passed could have been remembered. But are there things that we not only do not but can not remember?

Since I had that idea I’ve been collecting examples where I recall only the ripples of the experience. The largest category here that I’ve found is the workings of the Spirit. From gentle promptings and comforts to powerful revelations and visions, there are very many times I can recall being certain God spoke to me. I can recall how I described those events in the moment, how I reacted to them, how my emotions and thoughts resolved in consequence of divine influence; but I cannot bring to mind the voice of God itself. This agrees with my mental model of Spirit speaking to spirit without the interposition of the brain and its memory-creating apparatus. It also causes me to ponder if love is not a matter of spirit rather than flesh.

I find that it is ever tempting to cease believing in that which I cannot directly recall. When I meet someone who claims to remember me but whom I do not remember, I find myself wondering if they are perhaps a con artist. Similarly, when I contemplate matters of love and spirit that I cannot bring directly to mind I find myself wondering if was not perhaps deceived into the reactions I recall. But then my mind pulls out some long-neglected memory of their face, my heart stirs with love anew, the Spirit whispers to my soul again, and the doubt vanishes.

Why am I so dependent on memory to have confidence in my beliefs? Why do I have such trouble recalling spirit and love? Are others likewise burdened with memory holes and the doubts that follow? As ever, in the questions lies learning.

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