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Identity and Memories Jul 14, 2016

Have you ever stopped to think about what your favourite childhood memory is? Trying to remember and land on a “favourite memory” from childhood is a big ask – much harder than remembering a favourite movie or a favourite teacher, because our memories are so diverse. Do we need to stop and determine some criteria for what makes it a favourite, or it is just the first memory with the strongest emotion that seems to resonate with us? I think I will do it the latter way, and then work out why it resonates.

My favourite

So one of my favourite memories as a kid …and there are quite a few … is playing in our backyard cubby with my two younger brothers and coming upstairs to eat banana and honey sandwiches for lunch. This was quite a muddy cubby, surrounded by banana trees and as far back as in our yard as we could go. Nothing expensive – it was made of leaves and sticks. Nothing showy – it was hidden from sight, which is what made it special. And it brings with it a whole bunch of related memories – of endless hours of painting pictures on concrete with colourful stones, of rubbing the little spots of gun-powder from the strips that were meant for cap guns with stones, and terrorizing little lizards that were most unusual when their tails separated from the rest of them, but they kept on moving (spot the tomboy).

So why this memory?

There was competition for this privileged spot. There were parties in my grandparent’s huge backyard (it seemed huge at the time), with small bottles of creaming soda and sarsaparilla soft drink with colourful stripes on the straws and dishes of lollies, chips and biscuits with our cousins. There were fishing holidays at Noosaville and trips on the local hired boats to collect yabbies and fish off the beach. But no, the cubby has it! The carefree years of playing for hours on end – of freedom to explore and make believe -of having fun with my two younger brothers and older siblings. It is so easy to forget all this in the busy-ness of life. But once we stop and remember, it is remarkable how clear the memories are…even when we haven’t thought about them for many years.

Why are our memories so important for identity

A quick search on google for “Why are memories so important” reveals the top answer to be:

“They are your identity. They are your life experiences, how you view the world, why you view the world in the way you do– without them, you don’t know who you are.”


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