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Mysteries of Time and Memory: Facts, Thoughts, and a Poem

Linda Crampton is a teacher who enjoys reading and creative writing. Her favourite genres are classic literature, fantasy, myth, and poetry.

Nature can sometimes remind us of the past.

Nature can sometimes remind us of the past.

Intriguing Aspects of Life

Time is still a mysterious phenomenon, even for scientists. Memory is an interesting aspect of brain biology and not completely understood. Both factors are important parts of our lives and are linked together in our mind and experience. They are fascinating to explore. Since scientific mysteries are involved in each phenomenon, it's interesting to speculate about the possibilities, which I do in the form of a narrative poem. I also include thoughts about time and memory that intrigue me.

The Puzzle of Time

In everyday life, it probably seems obvious to most of us that time exists and that it’s constantly moving forwards and never backwards. Some scientists say that the “arrow of time” operates only in the familiar macroscopic world and not in the world of subatomic particles, however. Some even say that time as we perceive it is an illusion.

The topic of what time actually is and how it arises and functions is rich in interesting theories. Time is often combined with space and referred to as space-time. Understanding space-time could tell us something fundamental about reality.

The past seems to disappear in time during our life. Perhaps this is not always the case.

The past seems to disappear in time during our life. Perhaps this is not always the case.

The Nature of Memory

Memory is less confusing than time because scientists understand to some extent what is happening in the brain as memories are created. The creation of memories depends on chemicals in the brain and nerve impulses there, which are created by the movement of ions. It’s strange that physical processes can create non-physical thoughts, though.

Time is an especially strange concept when the human brain and memory are involved. There are many things that happened to us in the past that we don't remember. Perhaps it's not surprising that a full-length "time video" of everything that's happened to us isn't available in our mind. Some researchers say that forgetting is as important as remembering in our lives, which seems logical when we think of the huge number of events that we perceive and experience during our lifespan.

Not all memories can be easily recalled, even though they—or at least the relevant neural pathways—exist. Sometimes a trigger may cause a memory from the past to unexpectedly surface in the mind. (The mind is yet another mysterious aspect of our lives.) Strangely, the memory of the event was encoded in our brain but we had no idea that it existed until the trigger awakened it. I sometimes remember something that happened to me many years ago and that I'd forgotten about. It's an interesting phenomenon. In a way, it's a form of time travel.

The Garden of My Mind

I walked into the garden of my mind,
the place where children laughed and played,
and flowers bloomed but never died.
I tried to bring the past into the now,
to fill the void with love and joy,
and find the family that we were.

I needed those who lived before,
my mother with her loving smile,
my father young and vigorous,
my sister innocent and kind.

They could not come and comfort me,
nor change reality.
They could not help the outer world,
the wilderness of time.

I woke from painful reverie
to face the lonely scene.
A landscape alien and sad,
unruly plants usurping land that once was home
and greedy growth obscuring what was known,
their thorns projecting animosity.

The house demolished long ago,
the garden left alone,
now nature was in charge,
guarding life with jealousy
and the secrets that she stored.

I yearned to find an artifact,
an outline on the ground,
a solid memory,
a remnant of my younger life
and the home that used to be.

I pushed my way through prickled stems
that tore into my skin
and searched with care and diligence
but no sympathy from time.

Hours passed without a sign
as though home had never been,
until I saw a fleck of pink
shining through my tears.

The colour stayed as I approached.
I reached out to the source
and saw in wonderment and hope
a tiny garden rose.

My mother's rose bed
on this spot,
a survivor from the past,
a hidden gem of loveliness,
resilient and kind.

Greeted by the heady scent
released in gratitude,
I felt the energy of life.
"Remember me," the whisper said,
entwining with my thoughts,
desire and love in equal parts
emerging from the past.

I kissed the rose with gentleness,
returning love in kind,
then cleared a space around the flower
to make a habitat
hidden by the taller plants
and now protective thorns.

I sat beside her peacefully,
remembering the joy
of family and friends.
Warm scents from cooking foods
drifting through the home,
my mother's special cakes
topped by a magic world,
my father and his spade
revealing secrets of the soil,
and my sister and myself,
enjoying garden games.

Darkness gently fell
as in apology.
Frightened by the loss
I felt the tears again.
Yet the rose remained
and gifted me each day
with happy memories from the past
and tales from history.

Time moved on unchecked
towards the parting planned.
Memories now bittersweet
as separation loomed.
I saw the garden dressed in flowers
and glorious roses in their prime.
The scents of summer gathered there
as though to celebrate.
I touched my mother's hand
and felt her gentle squeeze.

An uncertain future for the land
and my life ahead,
but the journey back began
with a bud of hope within
and connection still maintained,
compassion in my heart,
and beauty in my mind.

© 2021 Linda Crampton

Comments

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 09, 2021:

Thank you very much, Neena. I hope you're having a good weekend.

Neena Daniels from Pittsburgh, PA on January 09, 2021:

I like poems that tell a story, it's beautifully written!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 08, 2021:

Thank you very much for the kind comment, Ann. I appreciate the information that you've shared as well.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 08, 2021:

Thank you, Bill. Happy Weekend to you, too!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 08, 2021:

Thank you for sharing such interesting information, Manatita. I'm looking forward to exploring some of the information that you've shared.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 08, 2021:

Thank you very much, Dora! I appreciate your comment.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 08, 2021:

Hi, Pamela. Thank you for the kind comment and for sharing your experience. I hope you have a great weekend.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 08, 2021:

I think that time travel would be a very interesting experience! Thank you very much for the comment, Peggy.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 08, 2021:

I appreciate your comment very much, Flourish. I hope the upcoming weekend is an enjoyable one for you.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 08, 2021:

Thank you very much for the comment, John.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 08, 2021:

Thank you for such a detailed and interesting comment, Glenn. The poem is not autobiographical, but it contains elements that are meaningful to me. Thankfully, my family didn't experience the disaster that you describe. I appreciate your visit.

Ann Carr from SW England on January 08, 2021:

What a beautiful, poignant poem! I was there along with the narrator, seeking through her mind and noticing all that she saw. You have such a great way with words!

I think the memory is like a filing cabinet (that's what I used to tell my dyslexic students). We don't necessarily remember all that is in it but we can access some files if and when we need to, the greater the need and concentration, the greater the possibility of access I think.

This was stunning and made me think hard about my memories and how they are recalled.

Ann

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 08, 2021:

Fascinating topic, Linda! Thanks for your thoughts; nice addition, the poem. All in all, a very enjoyable read.

Happy Weekend to you!

manatita44 from london on January 08, 2021:

A charming piece! You are dealing with an eternal question. Ask the Rishis. The Vedas are perhaps the oldest and richest books of knowledge,

In mystical philosophy, it is just one big flow of Consciousness. The Absolute is the silent, seemingly not moving part, yet creation is Its projection and all is happening in the Self ... the 'I am.' the NOW.

Yet Guruji speaks of Self-transcendence ... that is to say. God is not static. There's always movement and perfection itself is a temporary word as creation is always in movement. That is why even predictions go wrong as the Absolute is constantly playing with its own Divine game. (A lot for you?) Haha.

Your lady in the poetry handled it well.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 08, 2021:

Beautiful and vivid. I can identify with the struggle to remember. Your detailed thoughts make it feel real. My favorite lines:

Yet the rose remained

and gifted me each day

with happy memories from the past

and tales from history.

Well done!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 08, 2021:

This is a fascinating topic. Time and memory is reflected so well in your poem, Linda. I have had memories from long ago pop up unexpectedly more often as I have aged.Thanks for expressing this concept so beautifully.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 07, 2021:

Oh, how I loved reading this, Linda! Memories are precious! Time is an interesting subject. Many stories have been told of time travel. At least we can occasionally bring back memories of our time spent in this lifetime. My grandfather loved growing roses, so I related to that of your mother's rosebed.

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 07, 2021:

This was remarkable and I absolutely loved it. Although I’ve never understood the idea of space-time I liked reading your explanation as it provided a good forward explanation. Certainly the poem is strong enough to stand on its own, however.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on January 07, 2021:

What a beautiful poem (well-written too) and an interesting article as a whole. Thanks for sharing, Linda.

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on January 07, 2021:

I found your article very interesting, Linda. I have an interest in the science of the space-time continuum and love to study research on the subject.

As for memory, I never considered the idea that physical processes can create non-physical thoughts. That’s intriguing, and it explains why our memory is spanned over time, which isn’t a physical thing either.

Memories and thoughts are handled in our minds, and I have had experiences when I’d imagine something the never happed yet, only to experience it later in time. So your discussion comparing memory and time is also intriguing. Time can only go forward, but we can think ahead, which is sort of time traveling to the future in our minds.

Your poem is very sad. I hope it’s not true. I interpret it as the home you grew up in was destroyed by some kind of disaster while your parents and sister were still inside. I hope I’m wrong.

Overall, your article and poem were very creative in every respect.

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