Friday, February 29, 2008

Chain, Chain, Chain

Periods of activation and inactivation within neurons. Or perhaps they are simply cycles of neural activity. Words. Each word comes loaded with even more questions. What does neural really mean? And neurons? And this? And that? But what I really want to know is...what does it look like?

If I was to put a scope with an audio receiver inside my brain and thought of certain events of the memories, would I see anything? Would there be a flash of light? Perhaps a kind of cold rain falling on hot asphalt. Perhaps a slight change of color? Or a sound like a sigh, a soft sigh?

How are memories stored? How do we really acccess them? How does it all work? In between the neurons and the connections and the speed of the brain and its size, meanings get lost. Alzheimer's is one of my biggest fears. More than death even. Because without my memories, without those events that shaped me, who am I? Who is anyone? Is it because I am afraid to acknowledge that underneath all the fancy words and the images and sounds and smells that filter back to me through time...I am really just a body made of meat and bone? That memories are nebulous....there is no physical storage system. No way to pass them except to tell them to someone else. And then be dependent on their own interpretation and the frailty of their own memories.

I mean really, I barely have space for my own memories, why should I take on someone else's? And what explains that sometimes when I look up towards the white-cloaked peaks from my backyard I can smell the crushed grass of a high-altitude meadow in the Himalayas. And the nudge of a curious sheep as I lay flat on my back, eyes closed to soak in that moment forever. And the calloused feet of a man who walked the Himalayas in flip flops. And the look in his eyes? And the old man in a village who asked me to explain what flat land looks like. And the young woman, an old maid at 22, asked if she could go into the plains and find a job.

And how each memory is a link of a chain and each that I access leads to another and another...and eventually they circle back and return to where I am now, in the present. And how my chain is intertwined with so many others. Our common experiences mesh into memories that still remain uniquely our own.

All I know is. Right now, at this moment in time I have memories.

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