Just like we do, computers rely on memory. They need to process and store data. “However, computers store data in digital format, which means the information can always be called up exactly the way it was stored,” as stated by TechTerms. This is definitely not true for me. My memories are cropped, filtered, rotated, and adjusted in numerous ways. I wonder if anything is ever recalled exactly the way it was stored.
The more a memory marinates, the more it takes on the flavor of our perspective and associations. When I remember an event, it seems to unfold. It’s not streaming data, and it’s not linear. The object of the memory, whether it’s a fragrance, person, music, or place connects with associations in many different directions. This begins the journey. As an example, with peonies, I remember a home we had in Virginia with a magnificent mature peony hedge. It was planted years before my family arrived. The blossoms were large, full and white with delicate hints of pink. Almost every room in our home had an elegant arrangement of peonies for about a month. I smile just thinking about it.
Today when I see a peony, there is an immediate association to that home. Then my memory moves to that particular time period and the age of my daughter. It skips from different highlighted memories during our time at the home: rescuing and raising goslings, a car accident, a huge winter storm that kept us wonderfully barricaded from the world, an abundant vegetable garden, a ghostly Civil War general in the den, and it goes on.
My memory continues on its interconnected weaving paths until I reel it back to the present. The actual stored data I have on peonies is fairly limited. Peonies have a long and varied history in both the eastern and western worlds. People have used peonies as food and medicine as well as sources of inspiration for their artwork and in their gardens. The data is factual, but not much of a journey.
We need to process and store data, too. Recalling exact information can be vital. But, it is important to remember that we are enriched by the inexact, enchanting mazes of our memories.
The Search is always on. Join me.
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