Thursday, April 02, 2015


AVI has a post on nostalgia and why it doesn't seem as common later in life. He suspects it might be because older events, often replayed in memory, have the sharp edges worn off and are more congenial.

Instead, maybe an event or a scene is a bigger fraction of our lives when our lives haven't been very long yet. Do I have an incurably mathematical view of life?

To have the same proportional effect when you've 40 years stretching your belt the events have to last quite a bit longer--but then they'll inevitably be much more mixed with other events and emotions. They won't be as "pure" and sharp. (That doesn't mean worse--an apple pie is less "pure" in this sense than an apple, but it's hardly inferior.) "Pure" and sharp events are easier to remember. I don't remember the emotions (I don't need to!) but I remember vividly the sensation of stepping on something yielding and looking down to see a mamba coiled beneath my foot.

A first kiss is a transition, and that helps make it more memorable. The 5117'th kiss is one of a lifetime of kisses and linked to so many other things that it doesn't stand out as much, even though it is richer. It links to a kiss on the balcony with the moon peeking from the clouds, and a kiss before surgery, and the last brownie, and myriads of other moments.

1 comment:

Texan99 said...

I was just thinking along those same lines this morning. I was wondering whether I'm simply more defended now, or more jaded--then it occurred to me I'm also more ballasted, so to speak. Fewer things are brand new, fewer things surprise me, and very few experiences are overwhelming enough to override decades of other experiences on the same topic, so to speak. New experiences may make older ones richer as they're woven in.

But some of it may really be aging and decline. My mentally frail elderly aunt, in the last 10 or so years of her life, almost stopped registering experiences in her memory at all unless they carried a very, very strong emotional charge.