Memories… what an interesting concept, hey? Memories are experiences we’ve had in our past which we remember and we tend to love (or hate) reflecting on. Thinking about the human mind and how complex it is in comparison to any other animal on earth made me wonder if other species actually have memories too.
The answer is… yes! Pretty much all animals, ranging from your cute little puppy dog to dolphins, have memories. Remember Dory from Finding Nemo? Yeah, she had short term memory, but she still did remember things. Dolphins, orangutans, and monkeys have long-term memory, like humans. And your dog, remember that time when you left for a two week vacation and your furry friend was still overjoyed to see you when you returned home? Aww, such loyal little guys. Despite this, dogs actually only have a very short memory. Studies show they only remember things for only about 2 minutes after they happen. Dogs are reminded of things from senses outside of their actual memory, such as their owner’s unique scent.
Humans have an overwhelming amount of memories accumulated over time, and that number continues to grow every second we continue living and experiencing life. So how can we possibly reflect and remember every moment that’s stored in our hippocampus? The answer is simple, really. We’re also reminded of things by our other senses, similar to dogs. Memories are triggered by things we see, hear, feel, and smell.
For instance, the other day I was walking around Burnaby Lake and the wind rustled the tall grass, making a calming sound that made a memory instantly pop into my mind. I remembered a walk I did years ago, where I tried getting an audio recording of tall, swishing grass because I found it so comforting. Things like this happen all the time, and I’m willing to bet you don’t even realize most of the time when memories are triggered. The more conscious you are of it, the more you’ll notice this happening.
This is why, when you light a pumpkin spice candle, you start feeling all cozy and warm. It just ties the season together and makes the fall feeling complete. Or how a tree in the forest smells like Christmas because you have a fresh tree every winter in your living room, and how clean clothes hung outside that smell of fresh air remind you of summer.
Memories are more than just moments, they are also feelings and emotions. Memories are something very special, so remember not to take any moment or feeling that the experience of being alive grants you with! It’s such a special thing to be alive and experiencing our world.