We remember what matters

“…the memory-it’s more difficult. It has another kind of desire, one that is born in us as surely as the need to breathe, but because it is never satisfied, we don’t know that it exists. For a moment, between breaths, we don’t need to breathe, so we recognize the need to breathe when it returns.”

“But this one is never gone, so we never notice it.”

“Yes. Yes, you see-our memory can’t hold everything.

Can’t hold every vision we see, every sequence of events that happened to us, everything we read, everything we hear about. It’s too much. If we actually had to do that, we’d be insane before we left our infancy. So we choose. The things that are important. We remember only what matters. And we remember it in certain orders, in patterns that mean things together. In daytime, the sun is up; and all daytime becomes one day, and all nighttime becomes one night-we don’t have to remember every day to remember the idea of day. But we -don’t just remember this-we remember the why. It is daytime because the sun is up. Or the sun is up because it is daytime. You see? We don’t remember randomly. Everything is connected by threads of cause.”

“I’m not one of the Wise,” said Patience. “Maybe the Wise understand the cause of everything, but I don’t.”

“But that’s just it, that’s just where the hunger comes.

Every shred of experience that we remember comes as a story-a series of events that are connected by the pushes and pulls of cause. And we believe this story, of how everything is causally connected, without questioning it.

I did this because. I did this in order to. And this is the world we live in, this pattern of events that cause each other. It becomes the framework by which we remember everything. But some things come along that don’t fit.”

“Not just some things.”

“The weak-minded never notice it, Lady Patience.

Everything fits for them, because they simply don’t remember the things that don’t belong. They never happened, the memory is gone. But for those who live in the mind, the places that don’t fit, they don’t disappear.

They become a terrible hunger in the mind. Why, they shout. Why, why, why. And you can’t be content until you know the connection. Even if it means breaking apart all the network that existed before. Once there was a time when mankind was locked on a single planet, and they thought their star circled that planet, because that was all they saw. That was the evidence of their eyes.

But there were some who looked closely, and saw that it didn’t fit, and the why pressed upon them until they had an answer. And when it all fit, they were able to send starships to worlds like this.”

“Every child asks why,” said Patience.

“But most children stop asking,” said Will. “They finally get a system that works well enough. They have enough stories to account for everything they care about, and anything their stories can’t handle, they ignore.”

“The priests say that the self is in the memory-that we are what we remember doing.”

“That’s what they say.”

“The self isn’t in the memory, only the story we believe about ourselves. It can also be revised. It’s constantly being revised. We see what it was we did, and we make up a story to account for it, and believe the story, and think that we understand ourself.”

Quote from Orson Scott Card’s Wyrim

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