When you think about your first memory, can you actually remember anything distinct? Do you know how old you were, what you were doing? Can you literally envision your world the same way you would be looking out on it now?
I take pride in having a great memory. It’s helped me in my personal and professional life on many occasions, both large and small. I have to wonder if my very first memory had something to do with that.
Let me tell you what that was.
Imagine, being a a few feet from the ground. The ground is covered in juicy green grass, needing a mowing in about a week’s time. You’re barefoot, tottering a bit as if playing airplane with your stout little body. If you look down at yourself, you’re wearing a dress with flowers and lace trim. This is a very special dress, unlike the grubby bibs and casual outfits you normally wear. Even at age three, you are old enough to know that this day is special, because it’s all about you.
You see your parents and their friends on the patio, all dressed in summery clothes, even though it’s fall. They are lounging on chairs while their children are running around the long yard lined with a high white fence, flowers, a crabapple tree and a garage with a boatshed behind it. They’re making playful noises like the birds.
Then suddenly, you feel a sharp sting on your right eyelid. Shock keeps you still for a moment and then you lose it. The bee will be dead, but now you’re screaming.
That, my friends, is my very first memory. A mixture of elation and trauma so potent that I can still visualize it, albeit in striking technicolor flashes. Would I have remembered this moment if it had not been my third birthday party? What if the bee had left me alone?
I wonder that this memory is partly responsible for my ability to recollect information or moments both inconsequential and important.
If in order to have a memory, you need to experience some sort of strong emotion or physical feeling, does the ability to have your memory make you a fully realized person? What does that mean for your first few years of life, or if you become afflicted with dementia or Alzheimer’s?
While some memories can be harrowing, I feel quite lucky to have mine because they’ve informed the person that I was, am and will be.
I am also curious to know when you had your first moments of self awareness and if you can close your eyes and see either yourself or your surroundings through your own eyes. Please share your first memory in the comments, if you would like! I would be very interested in hearing.