My photographic memory

05Jun10

“Do you think I have short-term memory issues?” I asked Esteban today. “I get totally engrossed in whatever I’m reading or watching, but two weeks later I can’t remember anything.”

“Yeah,” Esteban answered. “I’ve noticed that. But you’ve always been that way.”

I was reassured in one sense, but disquieted in another.

Although I was comforted to know that this is not some new neurological deficit, I was left wondering how much of my life I’ve forgotten. (It has always struck me that my sisters’ recollections of our childhood seem much more detailed than mine.)

But just a couple of hours later, the tables turned. I’d been scanning the film I shot during our 1997 trip to England. “Remember that awful meal at the Golden Condor in Oxford?” I called from my den. Esteban had forgotten. But for me, seeing the photo had brought it all back.

I had a little flash of insight: Maybe my compulsion to document everything — either in pictures or in prose — is a subconscious hedge against my less-than-perfect memory.

Whatever its purpose or cause, I’m glad I’ve given in to my photographic compulsion over the years. I can now flip through the images in my computer and enjoy a personalized digital version of This is Your Life.

Like the commercials say: priceless.



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