Memories are made of these
Do you ever wonder where memories come from? Like when you see or hear something, you are instantly transported back to that time and place, and the associated memories begin playing on the movie screen of your mind. I tell the following story to illustrate my experience with memory, so please be patient with me.
Recently I've been looking at old issues of Thrasher Magazine which is a skateboarding magazine that started in 1981. The magazine consisted primarily of skateboarding and music-related articles, photography, and interviews. As a kid, my parents thought this glamorization of dead beats and losers (and other work-friendly terms) was illegally obtained contraband, and I was forbidden from looking at it. Nevertheless, I found alternate means of reading this magazine either through friends at school or by going to the corner store. When there is a will, I will find a way.
I was reading through random editions from 1988 and 99. It was fun seeing advertisements of the time and the articles that have remained in this vacuum. A majority of the views are dated as one would imagine; however, the music selections they featured I wished I would have remembered. A majority of it I have no memory of seeing or reading, and it all was new to me in 2019 Cristian. 1989 Cristian, though was heavily influenced by these articles. Even though I don't remember these specific pages, they subconsciously developed who I am today.
In the September 1989 issue and ran across an article on the Red Hot Chili Peppers. When this page loaded, there was nothing special about the article; it was a Q&A piece, pretty standard stuff. As I was reading, all I felt like doing was smiling. This simple article initiated a journey with the Peppers that unfolded in my mind. I instantly remembered the first time I heard of them. They had a brief musical cameo (less than two minutes) in the 1986 skate movie, Thrashin. I was removed so far from the California skate and music scenes that they caught my attention immediately because of their peculiarity. After that, I don't remember much of the Chili Peppers until 1989. The Higher Ground video played in heavy rotation on MTV, and then they blew up the world with Give it Away and Under the Bridge videos in 1991.
Since 91 they have been a part of the many memories I have available to me. The Peppers inadvertently provided a soundtrack to my life with near-perfect songs corresponding to the stories of strife as well as the better times.
These memories I watch play out made me wonder how memories are recalled. Long-term memories happen to be stored throughout the brain as groups of neurons that are primed to fire together. They do this in the same pattern that they were created in, which means that if Hotel California was playing on the radio when you were in a terrible car accident. Subconsciously whenever that song played on the radio, you would get tense and stressed immediately — essentially reliving that experience.
Doing some additional research, our long term or explicit memories, when forming will run straight to the thalamus which acts as a relay station in your brain. The thalamus shoots that memory to other areas in the brain, including the hippocampus and amygdala. The hippocampus is responsible for the memory, and the amygdala does the emotional processing ultimately tying them up into a cute little bow for later recall when you least expect it. This explains why Hotel California is such a horrible song.
When you see, hear, touch, or taste something, if you have a connection to this sensory information, your brain will recall it. Have fun with this, find something that makes you cringe and try to figure out why. When you find something that lifts you into space, try to find out what experience sent you over the moon. Dance in your memories, the good and bad, they have shaped the person you are today.