One of my sons, I think, could be classified as very wise. In an otherwise normal, run-of-the-mill, conversation, he can come up with some thoughts that really give the listener pause. He does read a lot and has a consistently good memory. Quite often when I make a mention of this, he just says, “I came across, read, that somewhere.”
When my son does this, he’s generally paraphrasing, never exact quotes. This is what a thinker does. An intellectual; that is to take bits of knowledge from one source (reading) and one, or two, from other sources, put them together – co-join concepts. And, bring forward an entirely new way to look at it. That’s an open intellect.
One of these concepts, philosophical themes, was that memories are actually merely developed convolutions in the outer layer(s) of the brain - the cerebral cortex (I believe). Memories are not facts, they are no longer real things. Of course, if they were empirical events in your life, they do seem like facts. However, they are gone. PAST. Over with. If there was a life lesson to learn from whatever happened, that is good to remember. Always apply whatever knowledge gained, to future actions and decisions, if they will make your life better, in some way.
BUT, let’s say, you farted in church – or got tongue-tied during a public speech – some event that was deeply embarrassing, there is really no reason the continue to carry that brick around. You can just let it go. Take it out of your guilt basket and set it by the road … move on. Because, it really is vapor. Can’t be undone, but what is it, really? It’s just a small dent in your brain matter.
I know this concept has been around for a very long time – lots of various intellectuals have gone on and on about “letting go of the past”. ETC. But this idea that painful memories are not real things, like ideas or thoughts of grand adventures are truly nothing until you actually do them. We all have the thoughts, the notions, of climbing massive mountains, running marathons (and winning) and/or sky diving, surfing twenty foot waves. We don’t carry guilt around because we don’t actually do these things. They might show up on somebody’s bucket list, but we generally just accept that bucket lists are not – like – Legal Contracts.
This popular concept of mindfulness, living in the now, is a good thing. Mostly I agree with that. The hard part is applying it. A small problem with living in the now and being mindful about it, is that it’s still necessary to remember the important stuff that keeps you alive. Like, that old person driving that huge old car, is not looking both ways before entering a main highway. In the past, you have learned not to trust that person won’t pull out right in front of you – that they just don’t see you. All kinds of little pieces of previous life experiences can really save yer butt.
This means that all the while you are being mindful – in the moment – you have to continually dip into your mind bank; a.k.a. memory. All important and useful knowledge is, after millennia of study by great teachers and learners, built on a foundation of prior knowledge. Simple life longevity is totally founded on this ability to learn, retain and adapt to changes in concurrence with empirical knowledge retained.
How to make sense of this concept? Well, it seems, to me, that it can be reduced to something fairly simple. If a memory is heavy and painful, step around it. Mentally perform what a computer does when you erase something. A hard drive, or any form of digital storage, never actually erases anything, it just writes a little piece of code that says, “Ignore the following data” just before whatever you think is being erased. At the end of that code string of erased data, it resets a command to begin reading code again. In other words, the computer skips over the erased data.
A good computer programmer can, if somehow required or rewarded enough, retrieve that data. A friend of mine, who is one of these kind of programmers, once said, “You have to write it on water, with a pencil, if you don’t want it to be retrieved.” The human brain is pretty much the same. The memories never actually go away. You can never actually rid your brain of bad data. But, like a computer, you can practice skipping over the stuff that drags you down.
With enough practice at this, it becomes easier and easier to do this. And, the weight of al that painful thought garbage, lessens and lessens. This also helps you find mindfulness in each new moment.
When I meditated, really thought on this notion my son put out, I felt a major part of my own continuing sense of deep depression begin to crack. And, through that crack some sunshine began to break in. It did sincerely change my life – or, at least, my life outlook.
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Note: for the brave among my dear readers, I offer a new, separate but different blog:
A study in a matter of theory and conjecture about human brain-mind development towards retaining ever increasing meta-cognitive development. Based on Mathematics, and I refer to Base 3 Calculus. I wouldn’t expect a whole lot of people to give it a try. But if you are in any manner open-minded and intellectually curious, the Math used is truly only a tool to condense the theory proposed.
Just published “Twelve Roses for Kathy – A journey on a motorcycle out of the darkness of bipolar disorder”