One of the hurdles of ageing is the loss of memory, which eventually gets to all of us. We become anxious when we forget the names and details of events, which is a constant reminder that we ‘ain’t what we used to be’.
In recent studies, scientists have discovered that memory tricks all of us, regardless of age or circumstance. In 1986, shortly after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, a professor asked his students to record the incident as they observed it. This disaster was a fatal accident in the United States space program that occurred on January 28, 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight.
A few years later, by experiment, the same professor asked the same students to recall the events. When the professor handed the students their original essays, they could not believe how their memories had changed. Not one of them stuck to their original stories.
Other behavioural scientists claim that two individuals present at the same event seldom recall the facts with the same accuracy and detail. Memory is therefore subjective and even inconsistent.
Ironically, people often quibble, almost obsessively, about being right or wrong. Subconsciously, we think that being right will make others accept us, have respect for us, and look up to us. It is always more important to be happy than to win arguments.
One way of taking the competition out of retelling facts or events is to start statements with “The way I remember the happenings…” This approach would open the floor for other ways of remembering.
When we accept that memory tricks us all, we would talk and argue in peace – and age without feeling embarrassed by remembering partly, differently and imperfectly.