“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou
I have a theory. Probably not an original one, actually. In fact, someone somewhere has most likely done a study on it at some point. But I believe that our memories are based not on sights or tastes or sounds or smells, but on feelings first. Everything else is secondary.
For instance, we might remember our first vacation because of the excitement and happiness we experienced during that trip. And then we associate smells and sights and sounds with that incident, and voila, we have a memory.
On the other spectrum, we might remember a broken heart because of the hollow ache, the physical pain. And again, all the other sensations we remember are linked to that original gut-wrenching feeling.
I don’t remember a lot of books I read as a child. But there are a handful that I do, and they affected me enough to help shape what I became as an adult. Thinking back, I’ve always been a fan of romance in plots. Even in Nancy Drew, I couldn’t get enough of the almost-kisses between Nancy and Ned. That’s the feeling I latched onto, and the only part about those mysteries I really remember. Well, that, and the fact that Nancy always conveniently carried a change of clothes in the trunk of her car. But ya know. I think that had more to do with believability.
Another example: People.
I’m terrible with names. It takes me at least three times of meeting you before I remember yours (unless you’ve done something to make a huge impression, then it might only take two). But if you made me smile, I’ll remember that feeling and associate it with your face. If you made me angry, I remember that too. And if you said or did something outlandish or incredible or absolutely impressionable, if you made my cheeks hurt from laughing, or my heart flutter with happiness, or my gut clench with pain or anxiety, I will definitely remember your name. The first time.
How do the people you meet remember you?