Daniel J. Levitin On Why Memory Isn’t So Black And White
Seeing and hearing are selective. We register what is needed at the moment and unconsciously ignore other input. It may seem that our eyes are like a camera and our ears are like microphones, objectively recording everything, but . . . our senses are not at all like those devices.
I have bipolar II disorder, which is characterized by rock-bottom lows interspersed with occasional bouts of manic hyperactivity. After some tweaking of my antidepressant cocktail, this maelstrom, too, will pass. I just have to lash myself to the mast and wait.
“Hi, it’s just me.” This might be the only phrase I know for sure / was on the years of messages the phone company erased / when they — inexplicably — changed my number. / The messages are gone, but the grief is still there, / ripe, a fullness I’m glad I possess. We think we want grief / to pass, but what would I do if it were gone, / like the messages, irretrievable?
This morning the receptionist ushers me / into the Magnolia Room, reserved / for those receiving a “different type” / of mammogram, although I can discern / no obvious difference from the Dogwood Room, / where I waited last week for the usual sort, / the one about which my friends and I joke / and pretend we schedule as casually as a teeth-cleaning.