The Persistence of Memory

Possibly the most creative person I have known in my life is a well acquaintance of mine that is a compulsive liar. Seriously, it’s amazing how she makes up anecdotes, memories for which she hasn’t any proof to have ever experienced and yet completely believes them, actually creating a reasonable -and sometimes convincing- background for her delirious stories. But even though her whole personality and life is completely created by her, she will never be considered a creative genius (rather, she will be considered a lunatic) and will never be famous, or win a Nobel Prize for her creations… which makes me very sad because she really, really deserves some kind of recognition. But, the blind faith in her inventions is what makes her a compulsive liar instead of a creator of fiction. Belief is the difference between a liar and a (sane) author.

Once I asked her if she was aware that everything she told me wasn’t true and she replied that everybody slightly distorts reality and that calling those misrepresentations lies was actually an exaggeration and an alteration of truth for its own.

After that conversation, (or maybe just before it) I read an article about an experiment that consisted of presenting a manipulation of photograph of a voluntary as a kid with a family member, that was in league with the conductors of the test. The picture was retouched to show both of them in a hot air balloon -transport in which the researchers made sure the voluntary had never been in before- and was shown to the voluntaries. Some of them remembered living that experience just after seeing the photograph and, after listening to the family member’s fake version of the story, they even described concrete sensations like smells, or very specific anecdotes. I believe to recall that up to a 90% of the voluntaries ended up believing the created event (or maybe my memory distorts it in order to make it more interesting). Creating memories with Photoshop, isn’t that fascinating.

For weeks (or maybe just a few hours) I was completely obsessed with the idea that, maybe, many of the memories I thought to be my own were actually imposed to me by some people repeating them over and over or that, like my acquaintance,  I created new ones for me in order to make my life more stimulating. My obsession grew until the point I thought that all my memories weren’t actually mine and, therefore, somebody else should have the ones I had lost. And after, I started remembering things that I thought forgotten, some of them even from past lives… and decided that I had gone too far.

So I said to myself “Laura, be reasonable, take your journalistic skills and find a fucking proof to for your reminiscences” and stood up all night looking for old diaries and letters, searching on the history of my email account, in photo albums… until I found a picture of me and my acquaintance in a hot air balloon.

On the next day, I met with her again and she told me the story. And then I remembered. I remembered that we were at the fair in our town and we paid 200 pesetas to get into the balloon. The sky was clear blue and we wondered how up we could go with it… but I had a heat stroke for getting to close to the gas flame and we had to go back to earth.

I left the meeting with the picture in my hand, relieved to have finally recall with proof an anecdote, it being so pleasant, and I finally understood her.

At least this is what she told me that happened.

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