Posted by: ritagone | June 13, 2018

The Highlight Reel

“Stop me if I’ve told you this already.”

As we get older, we tend to need to say this sentence more and more.  Why?  Because we forget what we’ve said.  And who we’ve said it to.

But worse than that, I’ve found that I’ve forgotten huge chunks of my life, because the longer you live, the more opportunity there is of forgetting segments of your life, experiences that you’ve had, especially if your life is chock-full of wonderful events and people and experiences in different places around the world.

        So…stop me if I’ve told you this already, but there was the time a few years ago when Michael and I were checking into a wonderful hotel on the river in Budapest, Hungary, after a Communitas conference for one night just to enjoy the city and relax for a bit.  The young lady behind the front desk said to us, “Welcome back, Mr. and Mrs. Warren,” and we shook our heads negatively, saying, “No, we’ve never been here before.” To which she replied, “Yes you have. You’re in our computer from 2009.” She had proof.  We had none. We were flabbergasted, to say the least. Not only did we not remember staying at the hotel; we didn’t remember a single thing about that particular stay in Budapest.  Weird? I’ll tell you it was!

Or you know the experience: Someone starts talking about a time when you were with them, relating details of that time together…and you can’t remember a thing about it.  You’re lucky if you remember the person who’s telling you the story.  It’s as if a blank wall is facing you. Like someone has dug out portions of your brain wiring that included that particular episode of your history.  Strange?  Yes, sir!

But then, there are those moments etched into your memory forever: the births of your children, your wedding day (not in that order, of course), events that were so wonderful or terrible that you can’t escape the memory of them, because they are permanently etched on your brain.  I can remember the stained ceiling tiles of the old Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, where my son Matthew was born some 43 years ago, as if it were yesterday.  They were relocating to the new hospital, Cedars Sinai, in a few months, so everyone felt okay with letting the old place get a bit seedy, including water damage, so as I lay on the birthing table, I could look up and see those ugly water stains staring back at me.  I see them now.  They are with me forever.

I remember emotions I’ve felt at times, people who shared those times with me.  Not everything, mind you.  Else why would I have forgotten completely what surely was a lovely time in Budapest in 2009?

So what I’ve decided is that our brains create a sort of highlight reel, like the best pieces of a film or television show that are preserved to show everyone on the last night a cast and crew are together for a wrap party.  It’s called a highlight reel because it is truly the highlights of the endeavor recently finished.  Someone sat in an editing room and decided, “This is great!  Keep it!” and “This is not worth it.  Throw it away.”  Maybe that’s exactly what our brains do about all the experiences and times of our life: “This is worth keeping; this isn’t.”  Otherwise, we would be so inundated with memories – both good and bad – that our heads might explode.

        So instead of bemoaning the fact that I can’t remember every single incident in my 70+ years, I’m going to consider that my brain is compiling its own highlight reel, and that’s good enough for me.  I will allow those experiences that it has stored away for me to come to the surface, I’ll enjoy them, then tuck them back into their drawer, and then hopefully be able to retrieve them again in the future, because my brain thought at one time they were worth keeping.

A highlight reel.  Sounds good already!!!


  1. I hope I don’t get edited out.

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