On Memory

In Which Our Heroine Ponders The Importance of Writing Things Down

My mind is a bit of a whirl today because I have several different things I wanted to write about, and it’s hard to focus. My mind is not the most well-organized in the world, to put it mildly, and that is one of the reasons why I write things down. The very act of writing something by hand helps stick it in my memory in a way that typing it into my handy-dandy phone reminder system does not.

We all have different ways of augmenting our memories. We keep calendars and to-do lists. We remind ourselves by setting reminders on our smartphones, repeating things to ourselves, even tying strings around our fingers. (A useless exercise, I always think, because tying a string around my finger does nothing but worry me about why I have a string tied around my finger. If one tied a note to the string reminding one about how one should go buy milk because one does not drink tea without milk and one has no milk at home and one would like to drink tea in the afternoon, that would be more practical.) Our human brains can only hold so much at a time, and our lives are generally filled with shiny, shiny distractions.

In my case, I am generally a scatterbrain, so I write things down and keep my lists with me. I often keep lists in several places so that I will be sure to remember. If I don’t write things down, however, those things are sure to be lost and forgotten. I know this about myself, so I Write Things Down.

“What,” you may be asking, Dear Reader, “is the point of this? So you have a bad memory! You write things down! While this seems an obviously practical solution, why are you harping on it?” Well, Dear Reader, this is a blog about writing and its uses, particularly letters.

My Point Today Is This: Letters Are Written Memories.

Isn’t that wonderful? Letters are conversations that can be read over and over again, treasured, and never, ever forgotten. This is particularly significant to me because of my dear maternal grandmother. She and my mother used to write to one another when my mother was in college. I asked my mother the other day whether Grandma would like a letter from me.

“She would treasure it,” my mother told me. “She would read it over and over again. She likes letters better than phone calls, because she can review letters, but she forgets phone conversations.”

“But,” my mother warned me, “don’t expect her to write you back. She hasn’t written me a letter in some time.”

I wrote to Grandma. I haven’t gotten a letter back, but that’s fine. I didn’t expect one. The thing is, Grandma’s memory is not as sharp as it once was. She has to write things down far more than she used to. She may not remember to write me a letter, or she may have given up writing letters. That’s OK. Every time I write to her, I will be writing her a memory to keep. Every letter is a gift, and I don’t know how much longer I will have her to write to. I hope to write to her at least once every fortnight. (I wrote to her today.)

On the other hand, I have received several written gifts over the past few weeks! My relationship with my LWA Pen Pals is going strong, and I also received a card from my Aunt! It is amazing how writing letters can renew relationships as well as start new ones. It also surprises me somewhat how delighted I am every time I receive a letter in the mail!

All four of my Mailings have made it safely and received the following responses:

Mailing #1: A phone call from my friend telling me how much the little elf brightened her day.

Mailing #2: I recently visited the recipient, and “This Is Your Chicken” is proudly displayed on her refrigerator.

Mailing #3: Tweeted to the world at large by a very happy recipient.

Mailing #4: A Facebook message immediately upon receipt, telling me how much she loved the kitten and how she’d displayed it on her sideboard.

Every single Mailing was appreciated, and I am lucky enough to know how much. This, of course, encourages me to do even more.

What memories do you write down? How do you remind yourself to do things? What memories will you share this week through the mail?

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Categories: Mailings, Pondering | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “On Memory

  1. I’m afraid this comment is completely un-related to this post but I just wanted to let you know that I received a strange email from your address. It basically contained a rather odd-looking link and seemed to be addressed to around fifty people as well as me. You might know about it already but I figured it doesn’t hurt to let you know. Hope all is well otherwise.

  2. Ovis Obscura

    I took care of it. I never use that account, and I changed the password, so no more nasty spam should be arriving. Sorry about that. 🙂

    • No need to apologise! I just wanted to make sure you knew something funny was up. I’m glad to hear it’s all fixed.

  3. What a lovely idea! I have just moved abroad and have been keeping in touch with friends via Facebook etc, but now I feel inspired to old fashioned write them! Thank you!

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