While I still remember the article I’ve just been reading, do let me pass on a word or two about memory, and as importantly – for me, anyway – forgetting.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
You know the answer, but ... The answer is on the tip of your tongue, you might think. Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash
When you have a few years under your belt, why is it that it’s our forgetfulness than gives away, well, our age, like some absent-minded professor.

I can tell you aspects of my toddlerhood, of that first day at school, of leaving Plymouth to sail around the world on my own.

Yet I can meet someone I was introduced to and chatted with only a day before and simply can’t recall the name.

Trapped underwater

In a dismasting of a yacht in a South Atlantic storm one night, I recall clearly being trapped underwater and realising there could be no escape.

I don’t recall it so vividly because I spoke to many people afterwards about it because it was a month before I saw another human.

I remember so clearly on that month adrift finding and opening joyfully a packet of nuts and raisins. Oh, and I found a Walkman in a waterproof container that survived the overturning and swamping.

I tried it, and heard Beethoven, and recall the moment at if it happened this morning.

Sieving through the very good article, The forgotten part of memory, it seems there’s a reason for our forgetfulness, and it is most likely to stop the mind’s memory container from getting too full.

‘Researchers are coming to realise that the ability to forget is crucial to how the brain works,’ it tells.

Constantly at work

‘Forgetting seems to be an active mechanism that is constantly at work in the brain.’

The writers believe a better understanding of the state of forgetting could lead to breakthroughs in treatments for conditions such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

‘How the brain forgets, by comparison, has been largely overlooked. ‘That,’ says a researcher, ‘is a remarkable oversight.’

A researcher from Cambridge University says, ‘Every species that has a memory forgets.

‘There’s an increasing understanding that forgetting is a collection of processes in its own right, to be distinguished from encoding and consolidation and retrieval,’ he says. ‘Evolution has achieved a graceful balance between the virtues of remembering and the virtues of forgetting,’ he says.

‘It’s dedicated to both permanence and resilience, but also to getting rid of things that get in the way.’

I must remember that the next time I struggle to recall even simple things, such as what I meant to add to my Asda shopping list.

Thanks very much for visiting the mostly Tuesday and Thursday blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, which are introduced each time on Facebook Facebook dot com/Sailingtopurgatory

The forgotten part of memory

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