Memory is a funny thing. Why do you remember what you do? Why are some memories stronger than others? I’m always surprised by how a smell or a sound can bring something back.
And how is it that memory can surprise you? If you knew something, then you should remember it. So why do I frequently surprise myself with what I remember? I’ve been reviewing some old course work recently, and I’ve been stunned by just how much I remember.
It’s also funny what you commit to memory without even realizing it. In library school I remember my cataloging teacher telling the class that they didn’t need to remember the MARC tags used for the books format. I looked at my friend and quipped “too late!” With daily use as a student employee in the library cataloging department I had pretty much committed all the main tags to memory. And despite the fact that I don’t use them every day anymore (I deal with a different format of material and while some are the same, not all the tags overlap), I couldn’t forget them even if I tried.
I suppose the memories never go away, we just lose the ability to access them. The mental paths we build when we’re actively using the material deteriorate with lack of use. Much like a road, without maintenance they eventually become overgrown and crumble, some probably, and unfortunately, never to be rediscovered. I’ve still got a lot of course material to go through. I better sharpen my mental machete to cut through the overgrowth!