Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Memory, Meaning, and Value

A friend was relaying a conversation she had a few years back when her kids were quite young. The family had taken an incredible long-distance trip and a friend remarked to her that it was a waste because the kids were so young they would never remember it.

How important is memory to the value of an experience? We certainly endow remembered events with meanings by creating stories. Some are stories in themselves if they are especially interesting or amusing. Major happenings are woven into complex narratives serving as pivot points, allowing us to use them as explanatory tools in describing who we are and how we got to be where and who we are.

But what of all the moments lost? Are they meaningless? Anyone who has ever kept a journal realizes just how much of our own past fails to survive the editing. We remember so little of what was our own lives. If you know that you would forget something, does that diminish its value in any sense?