“Do you remember every flower arrangement you’ve ever made?” I was in a floral shop ordering a centerpiece and the owner asked me if I had seen any of her work before. I mentioned a unique floral arrangement that had been a gift from a friend four years prior. I began to describe it and she nodded in recognition. “Of course”, she said. “ I know exactly the arrangement you mean. I wasn’t in the store the day it was sold. I’ve always wondered who had it.” I was amazed she remembered something she had worked on so long ago so I asked if she could recall every floral arrangement she had every made. “Yes I can”, she said. “Once I’ve made them I don’t forget them.”
I was thinking about her response when I read about a successful New York chef named Danny Meyer. One of Danny’s fellow chefs said in an interview, “Danny can remember every meal he’s every made.”
I’m often amazed when my husband Dave will meet old baseball team mates and they will start talking about a game they played many years ago. They know who was on base and who was up to bat at crucial junctures in the game. Sometimes they even describe a slide into third base or a great catch in centre field. My husband also has that kind of memory for certain golf rounds he has played or basketball games he has participated in.
I sometimes worry I am losing my memory. Often simple facts and well known names simply disappear from my brain at the most embarrassing moments. I can however, remember nearly every single thing I’ve written for publication. The main ideas of hundreds of articles are stuck in my mind. A topic may come up in conversation and I’ll think, “I’ve written an article about that.” Sure enough when I check my files, I’ll find a piece sometimes written twenty or even thirty years prior. I haven’t forgotten it.
They say memory is selective. Perhaps when we are passionate about something whether its writing or sports or cooking or flowers we select memories associated with those passions to collect and hold.
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