There are big blocks of time that it feels like I don’t remember.
I say “feels like” because I know that in reality, you can’t ever remember everything that’s happened to you because that’s not how the brain works. Long-term memory kind of acts like a card catalog in a library. You go to the catalog with a subject in mind – ie: “summer camp”, and that’s like giving your brain-meats the Dewey Decimal Number for what you’re trying to remember. Your brain-meat then acts as librarian, taking that card and running up and down its stacks at lightening speed (or slightly slower for some of us…heh), pulling memories of that thing from the shelves for you to inspect.
In other words, long-term memory isn’t a constant loop of all the moments of your life being played over and over again, just waiting for you to hit “pause” on the one you want to access at that particular moment.
Think what life would be like if that WAS how it worked, by the way. I imagine it would be like the worst possible case of ADHD ever. You’d never be able to get anything done because your brain would constantly be like “Hey remember that one time, at band camp? And Aunt Mildred’s dog? And Easter morning, 1978? And the day you were born, and the 47th time you skinned your knee falling off your bike, and the drive to the cemetery when Grandpa died, and the smell of the lake at night and how your first kiss felt and smoking weed behind the gym between classes and the words to that song from 3rd grade music class and and and…”, but multiplied by literally all the moments of your entire life.
That sounds kind of horrible. I’m pretty glad it doesn’t work that way, now that I think about it.
I should probably take this opportunity to point out that I’m an accountant, by the way, NOT a neurologist. This may actually not be AT ALL how memory works. I didn’t even finish college and I’m also prone to making shit up, so…probably don’t use me as an academic citation on your fancy brain science term paper or whatever. Show-off.
So, it feels like there are these chunks of time that I can’t remember, and sometimes it bothers me. When it bothers me, I start actively trying to recall things from my childhood in order to prove to myself that no, I was NOT in fact just beamed down from the Mothership. Except, then I start worrying about how maybe aliens have the technology to basically pre-populate our brains with just enough memories to make us think that yes, we DID in fact have childhoods and that the idea of being beamed down from the Mothership is preposterous, now be a good drone, keep incubating those trillions of bacteria and stop questioning reality. And really, THAT’S a can of worms I can’t even really handle on a GOOD day, so that’s when I usually start just looking up pictures of baby otters online instead. Two or three good baby otter video clips will put me right back on track.
Well, as on-track as I ever get, anyway.