Though initially on my driveway, I saw a few stars overhead, I knew it was a cloudy morning.
It was still an hour before twilight even, so looking up was a futile exercise in almost pure darkness.
Nonetheless I decided to take my first coffee of the day off to the lake. I honestly didn’t care if there was no sunrise, I just needed to escape the house and the PC.
When I got there, I was the first person there. Which isn’t that surprising. All the sane people are likely still in bed at that time of a Saturday morning.
Then as I got out the camera and was attaching it to the tripod, a couple came by on bicycles. It was really only the lights on their bicycles that I saw, in truth. But when I said good morning, a male and female voice replied so by the powers of my amazingly powerful deductive reasoning, I determined it was a couple.
As they took up positions at the end of the little pier, this is all I could make out:
Thankfully the A7 is notably better than my eyes in low light so it captured a few shots worth sharing. They are at the end of the blog. The cloud cover was insanely thick though, so none of these shots are particularly good.
Hope you enjoy, though.
Anyway, by looking at the viewfinder I quickly realized that while the guy was rod fishing, the young lady was hooping. She had started up her music and began swaying to its rhythm and it brought my mind back to happier days with Brittany. She would often hoop at the same lake at sunset and the memories came flooding back.
It’s been almost a year since she died and while most of my recollections of her since have been on a sadness scale, this wasn’t.
And the thought for today’s blog was hatched there on the pier, as opposed to my normal thinking stage while driving home.
You see, I realized immediately that this young lady hooping had triggered my memory into recalling Brittany and because it was purely a hooping trigger, it was simply a good memory, without the normal overwhelming feelings of loss and sadness.
Triggers are an important part of our mental process and though they are generally outside of our control, they can be pretty powerful in their ability to over-ride what is currently front and center within our brain.
While triggers can be situations or events like this morning, they are often just a smell, a taste, a song, or a video even. Something that our brain has associated with the object being triggered, at it was stored away in memory for recall.
When we choose to remember someone or something, we don’t get to assign the trigger. We are not inputting with a computer memory and assigning a value in a field that is part of a look-up table. Memories are mostly formed without our input, often without our knowledge, and always without our consent.
Now, there are things that we can force ourselves to learn. We can study and repeat until something is committed to memory but that is not what I am talking about.
And unless you have been programmed by the CIA to suddenly emerge from subconscious and assassinate someone, you won’t have triggers associated with such learning either.
No, I am talking about triggers that provoke an immediate recall within our brain of a person or moment, as if they were just there and we had just witnessed them.
For example, any Frank Sinatra experience (a song, an image, an article) always reminds me of my mom and her complete infatuation with ol’ blue eyes. It is indelibly printed in my brain, her wonderful obsession, her repeated listening to his songs, the many books of him on her shelves in the living room, and of the one visit he made to Ireland and how she traveled 120 miles on crutches from a broken leg to see him.
I don’t know how many triggers my brain has nor how many are good ones. But I am aware that there also triggers that are bad ones.
Triggers of an experience that will sadden me or make me cry.
I am pretty sure we all have them.
And it is important to recognize a trigger for a bad memory when it happens. What was it that caused us to respond to where we have suddenly become saddened or hurt, completely out of the blue?
These triggers will make something appear in our mind as if it has just happened and so the level of negative feeling associated with it can be very strong … even on something that happened ten years ago.
So, when we recognize a trigger for something negative, we need to identify it and create an understanding of why it has provoked such a response. And if we can, we need to try to avoid such a trigger in the future.
It may not be avoidable … many of them are not.
But some are and we need to ask ourselves if the presence of certain stimulus are worth having in our lives when compared with the negative responses they can trigger.
I have known very close friends to have deliberately kept their child’s room exactly as it was, just before their child were killed.
Every time they pass by that room, or enter it, they are immediately catapulted back into the loss all over again.
We each travel our own road and live a life that is full of memories created along the way. That is why our brain has a recall function, so that we can deliberately remember a memory and draw from it as part of our life experience.
But it needs to be recalled when we are looking for it. Not at random.
It is one of the things I absolutely fucking hate about my iPhone and Shutterfly and social media services. Periodically they conjure up these stupid collection videos like “this day in 2016” and parade all sorts of stuff in front of us, some of which we simply don’t want to see.
The number of dead friends and lost creatures that have been thrown up at me in this manner is significant.
So, I guess what I am saying is this. So much of our lives is outside our control. Including much of our own memories. Taking control of our memories can be a very positive step for those of us that have some negative memories worth avoiding.
… just a thought!