Monday, April 30, 2012

The Bad Old Days

Today, I thought about the Bad Old Days. Bad Old Days are part of life, I think--everyone I know has the horror stories, the memories of time that seemed to stand still as misery flooded in upon misery. If you, dear reader, have avoided Bad Old Days, good for you.

As I considered just how Bad those Old Days were, I had to question my perception of them. I remember what happened, of course, but less easy to remember is the intensity, the extent, of my emotional reaction to the negative events. Three possibilities presented themselves to me:

-the passage of time has leached from my memory the minor positives I was able to mine from the Bad Days.

-the passage of time has preserved, in perfect detail, the negative experiences and my negative reactions, without distortion whatsoever.

-the passage of time has dulled the edge of the pain I felt.

I tend to think it's the latter: but I can't tell for sure. For that matter, can we say that emotion is something rememberable?

An example. "Ah, Ian, remember the Bad Old Days when you didn't have a car? You felt so helpless then."

Well, yes, I do remember those Bad Old Days, and I think I can remember the feeling of helplessness. But am I remembering that emotion? Or am I re-feeling an emotion based on those negative experiences I remembered?

My question is this: are emotions purely ephemeral? Once a feeling has been felt, is it gone, or can it be remembered? In fact, is every instance of emotion absolutely fresh?

I think so. Sound off in the comments, bitte.

Long live re-evaluating perceptions!


Katie said...

It's the old "rose-colored glasses". I think the emotion only comes back if you find yourself trapped in the same -or a similar- situation, or at least freshly reminded. Otherwise it ends up being more of a thought than an emotion...

Cristi said...

At least for me, it is the memories of the events which trigger emotions, not a reawakening of the feelings I had at the time. Sometimes I feel different emotions. For example, an experience might have filled me with anger in the past, but when I reflect upon it now, I might feel shame.

Ian the Pontificator said...

Those are both excellent points!

I think that sense of deja vu can have a lot of different effects. This post, actually, was born from deja vu, and I found myself remembering my emotions from before *because* I was emoting differently this time. It's kind of strange to have that feeling--to realize that I am emoting in an entirely different way, only six months later.

Thanks to both of you for you input. :)

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