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Learn how to translate the love of a parent into letters to be opened on special occasions—making new memories. After ten years of marriage, author Mark Button and his first wife, Ronnie, were eagerly awaiting the birth of triplets when—on Mother's Day— Ronnie died without warning.
In time Mark began to build a new life with Diane, whom he met through a mutual friend.
The memories of how precious and delicate life can be left them filled with a desire to be there for their first child through her entire life, whether they were alive or not. So they began to write letters. The first letter was written within hours of their daughter's birth, then sealed, stamped, and mailed to her. On the back of the envelope it simply stated: "To be opened on the day your first child is born.
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We don't associate the slipperiness of memory with the guilelessness of youth. When you read descriptions of people's very early memories, you see that they often function as myths of creation. In Woolf's case, that moment in her bed in the St Ives nursery was the moment she became a conscious being. What should we do about this troublesome mental function? For one thing, I don't think we should stop valuing it. Memory can lead us astray, but then it is a machine with many moving parts, and consequently many things that can go awry.
Perhaps even that is the wrong way of looking at it. The great pioneer of memory research, Daniel Schacter, has argued that, even when it is failing, memory is doing exactly the thing it is supposed to do. And that purpose is as much about looking into the future as it is about looking into the past.difreezantage.tk
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There is only a limited evolutionary advantage in being able to reminisce about what happened to you, but there is a huge payoff in being able to use that information to work out what is going to happen next. Similar neural systems seem to underpin past-related and future-related thinking. Memory is endlessly creative, and at one level it functions just as imagination does. That's how I think we should value memory: as a means for endlessly rewriting the self. It's important not to push the analogy with storytelling too far, but it's a valuable one.
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When writers create imaginary memories for their characters, they do a similar kind of thing to what we all do when we make a memory. They weave together bits of their own personal experience, emotions and sensory impressions and the minutiae of specific contexts, and tailor them into a story by hanging them on to a framework of historical fact. They do all that while making them fit the needs of the narrative, serving the story as much as they serve truth.
To emphasise its narrative nature is not to undermine memory's value. It is simply to be realistic about this everyday psychological miracle. If we can be more honest about memory's quirks, we can get along with it better. When I think back to my first attempt at solo swimming, it doesn't bother me that I have probably got some of the details wrong. Memory is like that. You can pre-order it here.
'It is a religion': how the world went mad for Moomins | Books | The Guardian
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