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Emotion Locks in Memories

It seems to me that the experiences I remember are touched by emotion. Factual experiences are often forgotten, or dredged up only with effort. Unless documented for some specific reason, they fall into some brain file usually labeled "Open only in case of emergency.” Emotional experiences, however, are quite different. In fact, they sometimes hang around much to the detriment of the present moment.

For instance, I can’t remember off hand what my neighbor and I talked about last week when we ran into each other in the back yard, even though we chatted for a good twenty minutes. But I still remember the last speeding ticket I got like it happened this morning. I probably deserved it, but it was still a trap. It happened thirty-five years ago, and it still makes me mad! I go off on a tangent every time it floats up in my memory.

Nothing can be done about it now. The officers are probably long since retired. They have no idea what my feelings are toward them. My thoughts have never had any effect on them. But my thoughts have had many effects on me! All that time spent in anger definitely affected me, and also those around me. Could finding a new way to frame the story change its impact on me? Probably. I’m still working on it….

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