If an old friend turned up on your doorstep, what would they be like? Would they be as funny and caring as you remember? Or would the person you laughed with and loved be bitter and childish? I don’t know. Life impacts people in different ways. But I do know this. They won’t be exactly the way you remember them. See, what we remember is never what’s really there.
The old friend could be just as funny, or not funny at all. But they’re going to be something better or worse, something different, than what we remember. Why? Because our memories are just an imprint, a trace, and like most things whose home is the human mind they’re vulnerable to distortion.
This idea, the impermanence and distorted quality of our recollections, applies to everything, not just old friends and the places we’ve been. It applies to the things we’ve done, the things we’ve said. Essentially the whole story and experience of life we recall in our minds.
Realising that, that all we know and remember is not exactly as it seems, is humbling. It makes me reconsider the confidence I have in my own ability to detect patterns. It shakes the very foundation of faith I have in my own judgement and the judgement of others.