On September the 5th an exciting thriller hit cinema screens all over Britain. Before I Go To Sleep is based on the novel by S.J.
On September the 5th an exciting thriller hit cinema screens all over Britain. Before I Go To Sleep is based on the novel by S.J. Watson and tells the interesting story of a female character who, after suffering a serious head trauma, forgets everything she knows every time she falls asleep.
With no way to store memories, the character has to learn about her life anew every single day. In light of this narrative, I began to think about the power of memories, how knowing who you are now is heavily influenced by everything you remember about your past.
Without memories, how do we make decisions? We have no precedent to base our opinions, motives or choices on. This led me to consider the great implications of memory loss and how without memories, it must be very difficult to know who you are.
What is memory?
A memory is something you can recall from your past. Memory is always interesting. There are the positive memories in addition to the things you would really rather forget.
It appears that we have little control over what we remember, as many of you would agree – forgetting something that makes you sad is not as simple as willing it out of your mind. Memories can be useful and constructive, they help you learn, develop and can help when recalling an important event.
Remembering something can be an emotional process, both positive and negative – the power of a good memory can bring lots of happiness to your life. There are many studies done on memory and research into the individual processes, but I think what is obvious to all is that memory is powerful – without it, how would we know what we should behave like?
Life without memory
If you lost all your memories overnight, how would you know the simple things about yourself, like what do you eat for breakfast? Would you just know? I don’t think you would as you would not remember the taste of things, or your opinion on them.
Waking up memory less would leave you frightened and worried, not knowing how to behave must put a lot of demand on your emotional state. Often we take the ability to remember for granted, for example when you recite your name and address, do you ever feel grateful that you know it?
Often knowledge and understanding is put down to intelligence and learning, but memory also plays an integral part. Our past experiences and remembrance of important dates and events enables us to keep safe, learn when working and to learn at school.
The problem with memories is you have no control over what you remember and what you forget. Have you ever tried to forget a horrible accident but have found yourself mulling it over every single night? Or similarly, trying to remember your perfect date but all the faces and words are blurry and slipping from your memory?
Yeah, the lack of control is frustrating, but it all adds to the power memory holds for all individuals. If we can’t control how we remember and what we remember, we are even more beholden to our memory than we think. For example, there are tasks to improve memory, but these are just brain exercises – we cannot ever really train our brain to remember something it will not.
This highlights the complexity of our memory systems and just emphasises the interest we should take in memory and recollection of events.
Have you ever noticed how people embellish events to make them sound more interesting? They are using their imagination to add to their memory, trying to make things appear better or more dramatic than the reality. Although you can add to a memory, imagine if you could take things away? Retain the things that are important but erase the bad things.
Although this sounds desirable, I think in reality it would be problematic. If you have made a mistake you would rather forget, how will you ever learn? Often a bad memory shapes the way a good future can develop.
I will be going to the cinema to see Before I Go To Sleep. Memory interests me. What else in your body can bring joy and horror with just a thought? It’s a system we cannot control but wish we could, no one can doubt the power of memories – their ability to transport us to a place that can never happen again.
Next time you remember to say happy birthday to your friend, or what your first kiss was like or that you need to be sorry for making a mistake – be grateful. Imagine if you lost your memory – who on earth would you be then?
What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.