I saw a preview of an interview from the Today Show on Monday morning, before I left for work. It was an interview with Rick Baron, an unemployed former radio announcer from Ohio who claims to have a “perfect” memory. He claims that he can recall details from every day of his life for almost the past 40 years. He is just one of three people in America who are known to have a super-autobiographical memory. If you give him a date in time, he can tell you what happened in the news that day 25 years ago, where he was that day, or what show was playing on TV that night. To be honest, the real reason this caught my attention is that they showed a clip of him waiting to be interviewed and his smile was really creepy and he kind of freaked me out (I swear, he looks like an evil villain from a cartoon or something). Regardless, I looked up the Today show article because I have been thinking about this “perfect” memory phenomenon for the past few days.
What would it really be like to be able to remember details of every day from your past?
Back when Trey and I were catching up on the first season of “Heroes” on DVD, we talked about what “super” power we wished we could have if we were Superheroes. Just think; what if you could be invisible, travel through time, walk through walls, or even fly through the air? I immediately vetoed the power to travel through time – I would not want to revisit the past for fear of altering the future. Walking through walls doesn’t appeal to me either, because I would hate to invade other people’s privacy. What I would really want is the ability to be two places at once- like a clone! I could send the clone Stephanie off to work each day and I could stay home with Sophia and play. Poof! My super power would erase all of my mommy guilt immediately! I could have clone Stephanie clean the house and cook dinner at night while I sit on the couch, drink a glass of wine and talk to my husband. Imagine all that I could do if there were two of me – I could focus on my writing, volunteer in the community, train for a triathlon, or learn to speak Italian. I guess I could do all of these things now, if only I could find an extra few hours in each day (or I could sleep less).
However, I personally think the ability to remember details from every day of your life would be a tremendous burden instead of a gift. I have my memories of the big events in my life – graduating from high school and college, buying my first house, dancing in the NFL, getting married to Trey, giving birth to Sophia, etc. Most of us document the big events in our life by taking pictures and videos or creating scrapbooks. Instead of scrapbooking, I write in my journal so that I can remember these events in vivid detail. Trey and I also have literally thousands of pictures from the past 5 years that we have spent together (although I would guess that 80% of these are of Sophia).
Having the ability to list you the details of a certain date in my past does not appeal to me. Most of our lives are filled with the ordinary, everyday events of living. Each morning I get up, get my family ready for the day, go to work, spend time with them in the evening, and go to bed. I can’t even tell you what I wore on Monday to work or what I watched that night on TV – because it is not important to me TODAY.
There are also moments in my life that I would rather forget – times that I have been embarrassed, sad, bored, or hurt. I don’t want to bring up the details of the day I went through a bad break-up, the loss of a favorite pet (we still miss our Kacie-pug), or the lunchroom in fifth grade (any story for another day). Days when I have lost loved ones, moved out of a house, or moved away from home are all events that have shaped my character – but I would rather not remember them in detail. I like that my mind had muted some of my memories.
Now that I am feeling nostalgic, I think I will go home and pull out some old photo albums and yearbooks. By the way, some pictures are also better off kept in the past. Trey swears that he would NOT have dated me in high school with my HUGE hair. He also saw my prom video and was scared by my West Virginia accent. Luckily, I now have straight hair (without mall bangs) and I lost the accent.