Most short-term memories fade as soon as they are used. It's through repetition, by implication, by conscious re-processing, or by its connection with an shocking event or meaningful interaction that this structure of synaptic explosions graduates to long-term memory status.
If this buffer of temporarily stored information wasn't emptied it would overflow, crowding perception. (Remember "Funes the Memorious" by Borges?) This information, readily available for immediate use, is only rarely encoded with a priority setting, which makes it easily dismissed in favor of new input, the stimuli we refer to as distractions.
My mind is easily aroused, and I often have to keep it from wandering too far. When I'm writing, I often gather immense amounts of information and ideas that pull in hundreds of different directions.
Let me give you a particular example. I made a short film that surprisingly gained some momentum, a few awards and the interest of several producers and a studio head here in LA.
At the time, I wasn't done with my education and was more interested in moving to Europe after graduating as a visual designer. But that's another story, what I was getting at was that they wanted a feature screenplay based on or similar to the short I'd done, and when I tackled it, I remembered how many threads I was weaving and how far they could reach. I found myself following three different stories in three different genres, none of which were in the genre these Hollywood people were expecting from me at that time: horror. Other life experiences conspired to
inspire other stories I couldn't keep myself from pursuing and in the meantime, the whole administration of said studio was replaced, and the other two producers went on to their next Number 1 B.O. hits, one of them kickstarting a whole trend of cross-cultural movie remakes.
I ended up writing a sci-fi trilogy, an existential, multiversal love story, and one as yet untitled thriller all spawn from the same core questions but now dealing with vastly different subjects and universes. And life keeps always opening up: more books are printed, more studies are published, new scientific discoveries feed my imagination on many different subjects and I'm discovered that to keep my sanity, I had to find a way to empty the cache of my mind's hard drive, organizing the constant influx of information and the ensuing creative explosions.
This might be part of the reason I've started writing this. Another reason, or perhaps the same one, seen differently, is that life could be like a dream that fades as soon as we wake up and the train of daytime distractions gets underway. Like those dreams we forget if we don't jot them down... What's left of experience without a record or an interpretation?
Memory informs our behavīor, and shapes our consciousness. It allows us to make sense of reality, and to develop a continuous identity. Our attempts to record life by writing or even filming it might be a poor excuse for the past experience, but they do function as cues to otherwise inaccessible information and ensuing emotion.
Only the most striking dreams are fully remembered long after experienced. Those of us also interested in the intricacies of the more common subtle dreams could do worse than write them down in the morning before they slip away. I feel the same way about our waking life, about our daytime experiences and that's probably why I want to start writing them down and save them from oblivion. Or maybe I'm just procrastinating.
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