I’m struggling a bit with a topic. I’ve been all over the place, from National Cheeseburger Day, to the CIA. I was thinking, just a few minutes ago, how much I miss the old Batman Show. The one with Burt Ward, and Old-What’s-His-Face. I don’t feel like looking up his name. It will probably come to me.
Come to me. That’s what we say when we’ve forgotten something, temporarily. We knew “that thing” at some point in history. But now we don’t. And as hard as we try, we just can’t get it to sneak back out of our gray matter, and slide down to the area of cognizance. Nope. But we announce to the world, “It’ll come to me.” And then we give it some sort of time frame, as if that will really help. We say, “Oh, it will probably hit me at 3 in the morning, when no one else is around.”
Like an unwanted guest, coming around at 3 in the morning. “Hitting You.” You say to that thing, “Why couldn’t you have shown up at 6 p.m. when we were all at dinner, and my Fettuccine Alfredo was still hot? That’s when I needed you. Not now. How will I ever get back to sleep. Hey, I wonder if my Fettuccine leftovers are still in the fridge?” And you amble out of bed, and eat in front of the open refrigerator, with the light from inside as a beacon for your quest.
Our memory is a funny thing. Our memories roll out fairly early in life. From the moment we are born, actually. When life first starts out for us, it is a bit of an information-windfall. Our brains are bombarded by an immense amount of data. About everything, including ourselves. Have you ever seen a baby laying on her back, and all of a sudden her leg and foot bob up? And she throws her head backward a bit, her eyes get all wide, like, “Whoa. What the heck is that?” Then she grabs her toes with those little hands and sticks the whole thing in her mouth? Oh, she’s making memories. That’s all.
That is how we hold on to everything we’ve learned and experienced. Memories.
Humans retain different types of memories. And they last for different lengths of time. Short-term memories last seconds to hours. And then we have those long-term memories, that hopefully, go on for years and years. We also have what is called a working memory. Those are the kinds of things we remember by repetition. Like when we repeat a “password” over and over again to remember it. And again. That is our working memory.
I could go on and on about the types of memories we have, and what they do. It could be an entire book. Actually, I have to trust other people on this, the ones who have already written books about memory. That’s where I am making my memories about memory.
Adam West. Batman. You see? There it is, right out of the blue. Like I said, “It will come to me.” And lo and behold. I could see his face the entire time, and his rather unwieldy shape in his little grayish-blue outfit, with his belly that sometimes hung slightly over his Bat Belt. Most scenes, he’d keep it sucked in, and his rib cage would sort of show. But there were other instances, fighting the Penguin, or the Joker, when he’d let it hang out. KaPow. Oh, the things we remember.
Since the 1940s scientists have been poking around the memory banks of lab rats and people. They say that memories are held within groups of neurons. They’ve named these nerve cells, the Assemblies.
We get some sort of stimulus and then those interconnected cells fire as a group in response. You see a blue bike, the stimulus. And your brain goes, “Hey. That’s a blue bike.” When it starts telling you that thing is The Cookie Monster, well. Well.
The bottom line is this.
I forgot the bottom line. Hopefully, since this is the bottom line, it’ll come to me.
He couldn’t remember the pill’s name but it was on the tip of his tongue.
My friend had amnesia and couldn’t remember how to walk up the stairs, so I had to go back and teach him step by step.
I swear. If my memory was any worse I could plan my own surprise party.