How to Remember on Accident

In the movie Inception, a frustratingly clever piece of cinema, dreaming is explored and consequently exploited. Dreams are entered by uninvited guests, and ideas are stolen from and/or planted in the dreamer’s mind. It’s actually pretty creepy when you think about it too long. But nonetheless, it’s an incredibly fascinating movie. 

While it’s not actually possible to do this (at least I don’t think it is!), there are some true observations made about dreams. At one point, the main character points out that when you’re dreaming, you get thrown into a dream—there isn’t a beginning, and you never know how you got there. You’re just there, standing in the middle of your wedding ceremony, wearing the wrong dress, hair not done, the groomsmen aren’t wearing pants, and Smokey the Bear is officiating. But you have no idea how you got there. Right?

Have you ever noticed that it’s kind of like that with memories, too?

In my last post, I talked about the evolution of pants. Inside about 75 years, our culture has moved pants from mens’ closets to womens’ closets—tentatively, at first—and now we don’t think twice about women wearing pants. 

In response to that post, two of the four comments I got were from readers who remembered when they first were allowed to wear pants. [I know what you’re thinking—a whole four comments! Hey, that’s like a solid 20% of my readers, so don’t rob me of my blogging joy!]

My post about pants thrust them back into a memory without asking them first. They probably weren’t planning on remembering those days at that moment, but they didn’t have a choice—the memory just came.

I’ve experienced this many times, often when I smell something that is connected with a place or time. Like when my mom wears my grandma’s perfume, I get thrown back to my 5-year-old self, in the safe embrace of my grandma, who is with the Lord now. I can’t help it, and I don’t try, it just happens. Memories.

Thankfully, my memories are usually much less strange than my dreams. But I have noticed that memories come like dreams—unsolicited and sometimes fragmented. Like when you’re sitting around the table at a family gathering, and someone says, “hey, remember that time we…” and then that sparks a memory in your mind and you say, “yeah, and how about when we…” and it keeps going until your stomachs hurt from so much laughing. Chances are you’ll run out of stomach muscles before you’ll run out of memories. 

I’ve just always thought that to be really interesting. I never plan on remembering. It just happens…on accident!

Has this ever happened to you? What sparks memories for you?

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