A memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.
My memory is so very untrustworthy. It’s as fickle as a fox. Ask me to name the third lateral blood vessel from the extremity of my index finger that runs east to west when I lie on my face at sundown, or the percentage of chalk to be found in the knuckles of an average spinster in her fifty-seventh year . . . these things are no tax upon my memory, ha, ha, ha! But ask me to remember exactly what you said your problems were, a minute ago, and you will find that my memory has forsaken me utterly.
How we remember, what we remember, and why we remember form the most personal map of our individuality.
Your memory is a monster; you forget — it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you — and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!
Twenty or thirty years ago, in the army, we had a lot of obscure adventures, and years later we tell them at parties, and suddenly we realize that those two very difficult years of our lives have become lumped together into a few episodes that have lodged in our memory in a standardized form, and are always told in a standardized way, in the same words. But in fact that lump of memories has nothing whatsoever to do with our experience of those two years in the army and what it has made of us.
I remember things from the way they should have been.
Show Miss Manners a grown-up who has happy memories of teenage years, with their endless round of merry-making and dancing the night away, and Miss Manners will show you a person who has either no heart or no memory.
The thing remembered never was the thing itself, but altered by the thickening lens of time.
The best way to remember a beautiful city or a beautiful painting is to eat something while you are looking at it. The flavor really helps the image to penetrate the body. It fixes it as lacquer does a drawing.
I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.
You remember too much, / my mother said to me recently. / Why hold onto all that? And I said, / Where can I put it down?
The mind must move. When there is nothing to go forward to, it explores the past. The past is really almost as much a work of the imagination as the future.
I think it would be interesting if old people got anti-Alzheimer’s disease where they slowly began to recover other people’s lost memories.
I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve, or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.
The light of memory, or rather the light that memory lends to things, is the palest light of all. . . . I am not quite sure whether I am dreaming or remembering, whether I have lived my life or dreamed it. Just as dreams do, memory makes me profoundly aware of the unreality, the evanescence of the world, a fleeting image in the moving water.