I call it the Memory Junkyard.

It is that place where events become memories. And the memory of those events has to have someplace to go while you make new memories.

If the litter in the junkyard isn’t recyclable, it is sent to the landfill.

In modern landfills, it is allowed to decompose naturally.

And the memory fades away.

What Are Memories:

Your brain’s ability to collect, connect, and create mosaics from these milliseconds-long impressions is the basis of every memory. By extension, it is the basis of you.

Every sensory experience triggers changes in the molecules of your neurons, reshaping the way they connect to one another.

That means your brain is literally made of memories, and memories constantly remake your brain.

Memory exists because your brain’s molecules, cells, and synapses can tell time.(Your Brain Doesn’t Contain Memories. It Is Memories) – Wired.com

Tall pine trees surround the cemetery where your memories live.

“Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.”

Michel de Montaigne

Maybe you don’t want to remember.

There are many events in life that you just want to be banished from your thoughts and memory.

So you work hard to shove them to the back of your mind.

Out of sight. But never really out of mind.

How Are Memories Formed:

The brain simmers with activity. Different groups of neurons (nerve cells), responsible for different thoughts or perceptions, drift in and out of action.” (How Are Memories Formed?

Some memories are put in a safe place for fast retrieval. Or perhaps they lay dormant because you can’t deal with them. Not yet anyway.

“Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.”

Tennessee Williams

In The Memory Junkyard, there are tombstones much like these. They are the subjects of your memories.

Where Are Memories Stored In Your Memory Junkyard:

Memories aren’t stored in just one part of the brain. Different types are stored across different, interconnected brain regions.

The hippocampus, located in the brain’s temporal lobe, is where episodic memories are formed and indexed for later access.

“Implicit memories, such as motor memories, rely on the basal ganglia and cerebellum.

Short-term working memory relies most heavily on the prefrontal cortex.” – Where Are Memories Stored In The Brain


But they’re there, those memories. They may shoot to the forefront of your thoughts at the most unlikely of times.

A trigger may bring them to the surface of your thoughts. Your brain reaches to retrieve the memory that is being summoned.

Sometimes that memory comes to you easily. Other times it is illusive.

“Time moves in one direction, memory in another.”

William Gibson

Behind tall trees, grown into a forest, lay your memories.

Memory Repression:

Repression is where there is the retrieval of a record but is not allowed into consciousness.

“Clinicians claim that repressed memories are a type of defense mechanism developed following a traumatic event.

“The idea behind this is that when a traumatic experience is overwhelming and may be detrimental to the health of the individual, the mind unconsciously hides the memory of the experience from conscious awareness.

As the memory is repressed, the individual loses the ability to recollect the experience that triggered this defense mechanism, and they often become unaware that they have been traumatized.” The Debate On Repressed Memories

Sometimes you remember a surface of water, but you can't cross the water to get to the memory. This is what this looks like in your mind.

Gaps In My Memory Junkyard:

I have large gaps in my memory. There is little from my childhood that I can actually recall. Huge blocks of time seem to be gone and I can’t retrieve any memory of them.

It is hard to thread the needle that would connect the years like gathering beads on a necklace.

It’s just in flashes of memories, like a lightning bug appears in the darkness, that they come to me. Then they’re gone just as quickly.

The light goes out and the wisp of the memory is gone with it. Like the smoke from a candle that’s been extinguished.

And then it’s dark again.

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13 Comments

  1. Very interesting…and makes sense. I find it so frustrating how difficult it is to remember things I REALLY want to remember and often cannot, at least for sure by my age now, and then some of the very hard things I really would like to forget and that just does not happen entirely. Well, one day, according to scripture those bad memories will surely be gone, if all tears will be wiped away. At least that…
    I hope you will day by day find it less painful in your losses… I feel I too cannot remember a great deal of my childhood, but then there are parts I wish I could forget…and so it is I guess. Glad you are here to put words to feelings that sometimes are not that easy to put words to, Brenda!

  2. Brenda, have you ever considered hypnosis, to try and retrieve some of those memories? Might be something to think about.

  3. Usually, a song can transport me back to a time to a vivid memory. If only it wasn’t a snippet of a memory, and we could hit the pause button to stay there for awhile to play the entire scene. (if it’s a good memory, that is).

  4. This was a very interesting post! Lots of food for thought. I will probably reread this several times, and really let the message or meaning soak in. I find it interesting that the things I really want to remember, I can’t, and the things I’d like to forget I also can’t. Why is that? Then there are some memories that are so easy to recall, that those are the stories I’ll tell over and over. Interesting how the brain picks and chooses what it wants to recall. You really are giving me a lot to think about. Blessings to all who are grieving a loved one… person or pet. May your brains’ recall many loving memories!

  5. My baby Pompy developed cancer. He had been mistreated and in and out of shelters his whole life. Sweetest little guy ever! Obedient, gentle, quiet. We had him for only 6 years. I miss him still😢

    1. I’m so sorry you lost Pompy. Though he had been mistreated, you gave him a loving and safe home for the rest of his life. I admire people who do that.

  6. Susan, I’m sorry to hear of your little one. If only they could stay longer.

    Brenda, this was a very interesting read. It is extremely fascinating to me why certain memories pop up. For the past week I keep recounting living in Santa Monica when I was a flight attendant, my small apt which I loved. Maybe it’s is because life was less stressful, the world wasn’t as crazy as it is now and my responsibilities were just me!!

  7. My 14 year old chihuahua puppy, Serenity, passed on Friday April 22, 2022. I am so sad, heartbroken that I could not keep her alive and with me for one more day, week, year. Thank you, Brenda, for making a place for me to express my sadness for the loss of my precious furbaby.

    1. I am so very sorry for your loss. I know the heartbreak and it is devastating. I am trying to get myself to a better place while grieving. Today I’m setting up a “zen space” corner of my living room where I plan to relax and maybe meditate. It has a water feature. I love the sound of the water. I will show it on this blog tomorrow. We all need a little place where we can take our memories and deal with our loss.

    2. So sorry for your loss. We lost a huge piece of our world when our little Coton had to be put to sleep on March 16, 2022. May everyone who is grieving over a loss of a pet find peace in remembering how blessed we were to have had them in our lives.

      1. I’m sorry you lost Coton. You did lose a huge piece of your world. Just as I lost Gracie and Charlie. But we had them for a time and we must cherish that.

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