Sabiniana Balagtas Baliba
George Garneau, Ph.D.
27 February 2013
The Lights at the Corners of Our Minds
“Memory is life.” Pierre Nora
For the role of memory in our lives is so humongous, truly immeasurable, as most things we do are all memory based. From the time we get up in the morning, until we lay ourselves in bed at night, we do things depending on how we program ourselves. Thus, our survival largely depends on memory.
In fact, a neuroanatomical study states that without memory “we cannot learn from the past,” as it really gives us our identity and individuality, and is an elementary part of our consciousness” (Garcia-Lazaro et al).
My personal attestation to this: Sometime this semester, I faced academic challenges. I nearly lost my sense of individuality, and not to mention, self-esteem. However, when we start memorizing dialogues written by William Shakespeare, and I knew I memorized them well (as I think I delivered them decently too), things changed. My ability to memorize those lines helped me regain my sense of individuality and self-esteem.
Another benefit of having a good memory, it can also bring us to greater heights. How can I miss that benefit? When up to now, I still remember the amazing story of a sixty-six-year-old man, named Herminigildo Bardolasa. His memorization of six sets of alien card numbers, six sets of alpha-numeric passport numbers, six birthdays and six dates of migration to the United States of his entire household, along with all other important dates in his life, led him to the fulfillment of his life-long dream of American citizenship. (Roig)
I met and interviewed Bardolasa on May 31, 2008, during the Citizenship Fair at Honolulu Community College. I was one of the volunteer paralegals for Na Loio (now Honolulu Immigrant Justice Center, of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii) and the office of the then Rep. Neil Abercrombie. Paired with a well-known Honolulu immigration attorney, Gary Singh, I assisted Bardolasa filling up his application form for naturalization. Singh and I were so impressed by Bardolasa’s keen memory, as he answered all our questions so spontaneously. We were entertained too with how Bardolasa recounted those dates, as if he were saying a litany that we ended up chuckling, which caught the reporters’ attention that led us being featured in the Honolulu Advertiser the following morning—thanks to Bardolasa’s exceptional memory! (Roig)
In the professional world, many jobs these days require a great deal of memorization. For example, in medical science, doctors and nurses have to undergo “battery” memorization to diagnose and treat medical conditions. According to one of my cousin, who is a registered nurse, at school, when they have an exam, it is critical that they memorize medical terms. If there are computations involve, they must memorize the rules how to compute solutions, and they would surely get the answers. Likewise, in law, students could only answer essay questions if they memorize legal terms, citations, rules, and procedures. If they do not memorize, they would surely flunk and not graduate. Because the way they should reason out in most essay questions must always be supported by citations, rules, and procedures. Truly, most legal skills require “heavy” memorization too.
In the very in-demand field of information and technology, professionals and students must memorize coding and encryption to program and operate computers, softwares, and hardwares. For even these modern days, the computers still need us, humans, but only those who have good memory to operate them appropriately. Moreover, the built-in memory we have in our system can’t be compared to computer memory, for even without a memory chip neither, any programming (be technical or mechanical), we can memorize and remember things through our basic senses alone.
In arts, one actress even directly links her talent with her good memory: Marilu Henner, known for her role in the 1980 TV series Taxi, claimed the invaluable role of memory in her professional life. Henner gave credit to her memorization ability that could easily invoke emotions in her that she could effortlessly cry or laugh as required in the roles she portrayed. (Sukel)
Even in politics, there is a “screaming” notion that politicians are more convincing and believable, when they talk and give speeches without reading. Moreover, they must remember names of their volunteers, campaign leaders, and benefactors, or it could cause them serious consequences that could jeopardize their political future.
In rhetoric, it is quite tough for one to persuade either orally or written without a solid knowledge and memorization of (basic concept) any subject matter. The best example to this, is the “oops” moment of Republican presidential candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry. During the GOP’s presidential debate, on November 9, 2011, where he lost the race and a chance to represent the GOP over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, due to an embarrassing memory lapse.
For regardless, if it was a memory lapse or a lucid interval (as some critics labeled it), it was very embarrassing for a political candidate to be on a debate, arguing for people’s votes and he missed his lines completely and struggled so hard to regain his memory in front of the crowd and his opponents. My mother even said, “Perry didn’t do his assignment! He didn’t memorize!”
In most offices, regardless of what types of business, from filing of documents and all other administrative work, even in matters of ethics, a good memory is required. For without memory, organization is simply impossible.
In accounting, which is my major, we ought to remember the T rule or the debit-credit rule to handle and ensure the sanctity of a company’s general ledger. In addition, we have to memorize the nature of every account (if it is an asset or a liability, or a revenue or an expense), or else, we might end up paying an account receivable and collect from accounts payable. Even in payroll, we have to remember every employee’s pay rate and terms (payday); otherwise, the company could get in trouble with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Even in our day-to-day task, for example in driving, as commute and transportation are important routines of our lives. Driving requires a great deal of memorization as well. For no one could secure a license without memorizing some traffic laws, traffic signs, and all rules of the road.
Finally, “memory is indeed life,” for we are surviving in this world through the invaluable help of our built-in memory. From the time we rise in the morning, until we retire at night, we do almost everything based from our memory. We even identify things and people based from our recollection. In fact, we cannot even identify ourselves without it. Moreover, in most fields or professions, good memory is even required. Therefore, it is not even a question of intelligence anymore. Rather, it is survival. Because losing memory, is worst than losing an arm, or a foot. For when we lose memory, we lose our minds, and losing mind signals losing life. For when we start losing memory, our system is signaling our health is deteriorating. For memory loss could be an indication of a life-threatening conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia. Indeed, memories—the lights at the corners of our minds—are invaluable! Indeed, “memory is life” (Nora)!
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Lilian Milnitsky Stein, et al. “Passwords Usage and Human Memory Limitations: A SurveyAcross Age And Educational Background.” Plos ONE 7.12 (2012): 1-7. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 Feb. 2013
Nora, Pierre. “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire.” Department of History, University of California, Santa Barbara. University of California, Santa Barbara. 1989. PDF file. Web. 27 Feb. 2013
Roig, Suzanne. “Immigrants Find Guidance Path to Citizenship.” Honolulu Advertiser.Honolulu Advertiser, 1 June 2008. Web. 26 Feb. 2013
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Tai, Hue-Tam Ho. “Remember Realms: Pierre Nora And French National Memory.” American Historical Review 106.3 (2001): 906-922. Academic Search Premier.Web. 27 Feb. 2013.