Monday, April 15, 2013

How Much Do You Remember?

I recently read and reviewed a memoir by a friend who seemed to remember every aspect of his childhood. I tried to think back to the same period in my life and found that I could only put my finger on a few highlights and lowlights. How could he have remembered things so intensely? Then I took a pad of paper and started to jot down random memories. I found that the few items I freely remembered triggered other glimpses into my past, and my number of recollections slowly began to accelerate as I wrote them down. I started this exercise being convinced that I could never write a memoir of that period, but I soon realized that, like everything else, it just takes detailed and continuous work. My friend's memoir seemed effortless, but behind the scenes there must have been both memory exercises and interviews with others to recover seemingly lost memories. I'm also sure that even after such efforts, I would have gaps remaining in my personal history. Those gaps would have to be filled with what logically must have happened, even if you can't dredge up specific conversations and details. The initial exercise was so enlightening that I might actually try a memoir some day...The only question is whether anyone would want to read it.

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