A Walk Past Memory Lane

Memory is a funny thing.

This morning, Doug and I were walking past a playground where our kids used to play. The memories spilled over me like a giant wave. I swear I could reach out and squeeze those babies from 15, 20, 25 years ago. Their faces. Their smiles. Their voices. The way they ran, jumped, laughed, played. It was so. Damn. Real. And so close. I could smell them. I could feel their arms hugging me. I could see them jumping and swinging and could feel their joy as they climbed and the wetness of their tears when they fell. A combination of so many memories, spanning years, compressed into one beautiful, powerful flashback.

Time is a funny thing.

It stretches and shrinks, with long days and short years, or short days and long years, or other combinations of fleeting and eternal seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades.

When doctors evaluate patients, we always check to see if they’re “oriented to person, place, and time.” Do they know who their family member is who’s standing next to them, do they know they’re in a hospital or a doctor’s office, do they know today’s date? 

It’s an important part of patient assessment, time. The number of heartbeats and breaths in a minute, the pattern/regularity of those heartbeats and breaths. The knowledge of the date. The duration of current symptoms or of a longtime condition. 

Orientation to person, place, and time.

I was walking with my husband today, March 29th, 2024. And in the space of ten footsteps, I passed through 1999 to 2009. I was standing in a playground 50 feet from where I actually was, with children who are men hundreds of miles away.

The number of breaths in a minute. I think I held my breath through those ten steps. Or a little longer.

Sometimes I’ll walk into the basement to get something, forget what I went there to get, and have to walk back upstairs to remember what it was so I can go back down to get it. That’s not beautiful – it’s actually a pain in the ass.

Both of the above scenarios rely on triggers. Something sets off a recollection – it can be random and involuntary, like passing the playground, or we can purposely use the phenomenon as a tool, like walking out of the basement into the kitchen where something in that setting will remind us of what we had been thinking that had prompted us to descend the first time.

The mind is a funny thing.

Sometimes we can control it. Sometimes our mind has a mind of its own. Which is weird, because it’s our own mind.

Today I’m going to enjoy my mind’s mind of its own. Its orientation to time. To place. To people. To what was and what is. It can go where it wishes.

Unless I need something from the basement.

2 thoughts on “A Walk Past Memory Lane

    1. Abi Schildcrout Post author

      Finite, yes, but if you want to slow it down you can always stand in line at Secretary of State!


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