I write ideas for blogs down, and schedule the posts. This means that Monday- Thursdays (usually) I am writing posts from things I thought about two months prior. This usually works out, because in many cases I’ve gained perspective on the situation, and with a little distance often brings clarity, so I am able to write a more rounded post or idea. Let’s emphasize usually… because today, while I remember the incident, I don’t remember the exact particulars. But, I will relay my sentiments, even though I’m not quite journalistically who, what, where, how and why…

So I was at a museum, let’s assume the Met, as that is the museum I am most likely to go to alone. I was looking at an exhibit. When I visit a gallery and look at an exhibit, I usually approach it as follows:

  1. If available, I read the notes that pertain to the gallery in question.
  2. I circle the room, noting what does or does not capture my eye
  3. I make a second turn, this time stopping to look at a few pieces, and reading the corresponding notes
  4. Third turn and pick out my favorite and take a picture of the work, and spend a few minutes just looking at one thing

So I did my thing, and I ended up at a piece I really liked. Here’s where the memory gets fuzzy- I don’t remember what exhibit or what piece, or what it was that I liked about the piece. I just remember that I found it interesting at the time.

But I do remember two women in the gallery at the same time as me, and they were non stop talking, which is great and fine, but maybe not the best way to actually look at art, and when one of the woman saw me take a picture of something, she stopped talking and looked more closely at what I photographed. She made a comment to her friend about how she hadn’t really looked at the work in question (well, duh- you’re talking and not paying attention) and then they stopped to look at the actual thing.

I just wish I remembered what the fascinating thing was…

Now, if I wanted to, I could look back at my journals/notes, and even my Sunday blog posts to spot which work really intrigued me…but I won’t. It’s funny how the mind works, how I could find something so intriguing I needed a picture, but then a few months later completely forget what it was. Or how certain memories just creep up on one, and never shake their tether to the mind and soul. What we choose to remember… what does that say about what haunts us or what pushes us forward?

So here I sit at my laptop, looking at my notes, and realizing that a few months ago my intention was to write about being in the moment, observing and paying attention, but yet the lesson that remains, the lesson I write about today, is quite different. Now, I sit here pondering how the past, present and future all meld together to form who we are, or who we aren’t. I wonder why certain things stick forever in my mind- how I can conjure up the memory of how a certain work of art commanded my attention in 1985 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and I still remember “chatter chatter chatter”, but something I saw two months ago wasn’t worthy of the long term.

Do our memories, the ones we choose to revisit like good old friends or sworn adversaries, make up the actions that we do on the daily? Do they subconsciously help us plot out our paths to the future? Or do we spend our lives trying to either recreate the good, or do a 180 on the bad?

If we are lucky, every day is a learning experience- we just might not realize it at the time. I guess we do have to pay attention, but maybe not necessarily at what we think we should be noticing.

28 thoughts on “The Details

  1. Funny isn’t it. Your idea of a worth while topic and your mind’s idea are two different ones. Both agree the day, activity or event were note worthy but for different reason. Happens to me often

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  2. Emotions seal the deal on our memories. Perhaps the emotion from the art work was not quite as strong as the emotion you felt from the chatter chatter. Just a thought. The explanation for this particular event could be something totally different though. I do agree though that time and perspective can enhance our posts. Maybe there is a “sweet spot” where our insight is heightened, but the details remain. Nice post! It was very thought provoking!

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  3. Brain function is incredibly fascinating isn’t it? I suspect memories play a large role in who we are-perhaps daily even- if we have a hard time letting go of specific events or for a person who deals with mental health issues also.

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  4. And then there are memories we do not choose to visit but come forth anyway. They can haunt us and are not easily tucked away. I think we continue to learn and not necessarily be aware of it.

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  5. I agree that we are constantly learning. Also that it’s hard to be in the moment. I wrote about how to deal with negative thoughts and how we are bombarded with tens of thousands of thoughts each day.

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  6. This topic is so huge that I’m not going to begin to address it. It takes brain science and mixes in experiences and emotions–none of which are simple. I couldn’t help but notice the word “clarity” popped up here.😉 This post could be the start of a nonfiction book if that is the direction you wanted to go. I will comment that as you get older, memories become both harder and easier to access depending on what the memory is and what stimulated it.

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  7. Memories are tricky. Matter of fact, when you remember, it’s not an exact remembrance. It’s a replica of an experience you had. Some of it you’ll remember spot on, some things in that memory, you won’t. Some of what you think you remember will change slightly. The more emotion you have attached, the more you’ll remember…if I remember all of this correctly. LOL. The question you ask, how much does it push us forward? There’s a ton of things going on behind the scenes (out of our conscious reach) that push us or hinder us subconsciously. You should take some psychology courses. I think you’d really enjoy them! Mona

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  8. The brain receives millions of bits of information each second, hence why sleep is so important. As the information is being received, it’s automatically sorting via a process known as deletion, distortion and generalisation. Mindfulness is a wonderful practice, but the situation you’ve described is the perfect depiction of why we struggle with it and why it needs constant practice. The chitter chatter intruded on your thoughts, distracting you from your purpose of focusing on the piece of art – and that meant your memory of the experience was different to what you expected it would be. Annoying isn’t it! It’s one reason why I refuse to attend galleries with the wrong people.

    I agree with Mona – neuroscience, psychology, NLP would all be subjects you’d probably enjoy if you can find some courses. I have no scientific bent at all, so had to work extra hard with those aspects, but it was well worth the effort.

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