The Visual Memory bank

Some of my friends who are approaching the biblical threescore years and ten complain about 'short memory'. They are pessimists for whom I recommend an alternative- visual memory. We all have it, but we treat it with less than the respect it deserves.

Visual memory is, after all, the recollection of everyting good and beautiful we have ever seen; it is the movie screeen behind our eyes. Our entire life can be projected on that screen with the speed of a computer's memory bank responding to a touch on a key. But our visual memory doesn't even require us to press a key; it can be summoned with an unspoken thought. That's all that's needed to start the process. It's a most satisfying way to muse, as we search our past for its loveliest moments.

Visual memory is the baby's first smile, a treasured recollection long after the baby has left on its journey toward adulthood. It is the remembrance of the first crocus we ever saw peeping up bravely throught he last of the season's snows. It is the memory we hold from year to year of the swelling buds that will bring fresh green leaves to efface the bliizzards and bone-chilling winds of winter.

It is the evocation, corner by corner, of one's first home and heirloom furniture from generations before; or perhaps of the simple pieces purchased one by one because it was all your wonderful, new husband could afford, and which you loved devotedly because you loved him. It is the vision of the first symphony concert you attended, a vision that in recollection fills not just your eyes but your ears and soul.

It is the remembered sense of place when you came home from abroad and recounted all the wonderous sights you'd seen in all the world's ancient cities, and the simplier, homier ones of exotic countrysides where farmers worked their fields and tended their orchards.

Visual memory is a gift to us all. Children cansee the world for a time as a place of perfection, without seams or patches. And when their mother reads to them stories of good men and women and their great deeds, she stocks their visual memory bank for times ahead when they may need strength or inspiration.

At whatever age, though, visual memory can be a comforting friend. It's only important to remember what's important. And visual memory does that with ease.

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