The Past is The Past is The Past

Time by dkalo, on Flickr

Original Photo © Dimitris Kalogeropoylos, dkalo on Flickr.
CC BY-SA 2.0

[Status: Only a quick undeveloped realisation.]

Isn’t it weird that something that happened years ago “feels like yesterday”, while something that happened last week “feels like forever ago”?

Well actually, I’ve just realised it might not be weird at all.

All memories are stored in our brains. They’re simply clusters of neurons*.

* or whatever. I’m not a neuroscientist.

And that’s true whether something happened yesterday, last week, or decades ago.

So perhaps what’s wrong is my expectation that it SHOULD feel different if a memory is recent – compared to if it’s something which happened long ago.

So What?

I guess there’s not much practical use for this idea. But it still helps me to reframe my relationship with the past a little more.

I mean, there’s a very real sense in which the past doesn’t exist.

(You could search the entire universe and not find “your past” anywhere except inside your own brain. Even evidence of the past – like a love letter from an ex – is simply a reminder of something that no longer exists.)

And this realisation helps to remind me that this is true for the very recent past just as much as for ancient history.

Once something is done, it’s gone. It exists only in our minds.**

** this isn’t to say it doesn’t matter! Our minds exist, and are very important.

The past is the past, whenever it happened.

And that makes it our choice what – if anything – we decide to do about that.


No no-longer-existent memories were harmed during the production of this post.

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One thought on “The Past is The Past is The Past

  1. I observed to a friend only yesterday that the memory of an embarrassment – sometimes it can be one from almost 50 years ago – can instantly make me feel once again the emotion of embarrassment. Sometimes it can be such an intense feeling that I inadvertently exclaim something like “Ooh, NO!”

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