The biggest lie we tell ourselves is that “it” is not all in your mind. Instead, it – your life and everything about it, even the universe – is inside your skull. Your head is a vast reservoir of everything, they say, from the tiniest microbe to spiral galaxies, are all somehow in there. It’s total nonsense but also something “everybody knows,” like the flat earth and those illnesses caused by the imbalance of humors.
by David Stone
Assorted Ideas, Large & Small
Is it all in your mind…?
One of the goofiest claims from a respected scientist is that your brain has plenty enough capacity for storing all your memories. It’s about as desperate an attempt at avoiding the truth as ever tossed into the wind, being approximately as substantial as the wind itself.
First of all, what is the size of a memory? And while we’re at it, what is a memory really, anyway? Any memory, in fact, is an artificial thing we resurrect
In our thoughts. Some aren’t even accurate, as anyone who’s ever argued with their spouse knows, but we throw our arms around them like gilded treasures anyway.
All my memories, All my friends
But treasured memories can be treasured fictions, like Larry McMurty’s great All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers, a novel carried out as a slice of autobiography. Loved that book, read it multiple times, but nothing in the story happened to me. Much of it, in the raw, happened to McMurtry. Yet, I remember parts of All My Friends as if I was there and an active part of it. I even feel the anger when they refuse Danny Deck a chance to see his newborn child.
The other thing about memory is that it’s never one moment; it’s a running stream, one with tricky currents and shifting shores. So, you’d have to remember that whole stream in all its nuance and context and plunk it down somewhere in your skull, millisecond by millisecond.
No one has yet found that massive repository inside your skull. The best anyone’s come up with is a fanciful alliance between multiple brain parts where, stimulated, they all coalesce in an active picture in your mind’s eye. Not kidding. And just for the fun of it, keep in your mind the fact that that alliance must be happening all the time, along with everything else, your brain has to do. Like growing toenails, for example.
Maybe with a simple event, the time I reeled in a catfish in my uncle’s boat on the lake in Montrose, in some extreme stretch of the imagination – which you also must remember… But what about the first time you fell head over heels in love or when got that call telling you that you landed your dream job?
Memories are snapshots. But your life is not because it rolls out in a massive, interconnected stream of experience. Although you can’t stop it, you can and often do pause for research or reminiscence.
Conclusion: All in your mind…
All in your mind… but not in your head?
All this being said, what can you do with these insights? How will you apply them to create more insight and understanding for yourself? There may be many answers, depending on who you ask or where they’re coming from; however, one thing remains true: understanding how people perceive different information and how it can be used to their advantage is a key factor for self-awareness. All of the answers are there for us, but not inside our heads.
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