Let’s Accept Our Memory Is Unreliable

Doing the best with our time without idealising the past

Marti Purull
2 min readNov 25, 2022


a woman ponders in an ethereal plain with blurry islands dotted around her in the distance, minimal modern digital art — by DALL·E

We constantly witness proof that our memory is insultingly unreliable. Frequently, whenever two friends recall a moment they shared, the scene appears to be exceedingly different depending on who describes it. I pride myself on having a decent memory and often remember things my friends have long forgotten. Yet, I have lost count of the times I have realised my recollection was incorrect, or at least not entirely accurate. Indeed, having a prodigious memory can be a curse sometimes, as we or even others come to depend on it.

We constantly abuse the unreliability of the mind’s capacity to remember precisely. Business owners use convenient portions of the data available to them, knowing it is unlikely anybody will be able to remember and notice any inconsistencies. Politicians make a living out of voters’ tragically flimsy memories. Even relationships can be sustained on the involved parties’ ability to forget specific events.

This is why we should question any ideal scenario that lives in our minds as something that happened. The brain will tell us otherwise, but nothing used to be perfect. When we say we miss home or a job or a relationship, we only yearn for certain aspects of a point in time. We don’t miss an entire period or way of life but moments, people, attitudes and feelings.

The beauty of this is that it does not rely on our memory. The sensation we feel is genuine and current. We can create those moments again, meet similarly inspiring and thrilling people and inhabit the attitude that makes it all possible. What was fascinating in the past wouldn’t be enough anymore. We must strive to nurture this appetite to discover and create magic anew.

Time has come and gone. There is time that is still to come. And some is here with us now.

Written while listening to ‘Astrosat’ by Applefish.

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Marti Purull

I’m a musician, but I think every day. So I write every day. Thoughts. Reflections. Life.