Sunday, May 17, 2015

Reflections on Memory, Forgetting, and Susan M. Schultz

            Before I met Susan M. Schultz, I felt intimidated because of the fact that she is a distinguished professor at the University of Hawaii.  I was afraid of meeting someone of her caliber because I view myself as merely an undergraduate student.  After I met her, though, I realized that she is just as human as anyone else because all people are fundamentally the same.  I learned from this experience that everyone has their own minds, and that the precious gift of human thought deteriorates over time as memories slip away.  My sincerest hope is that I will never forget this valuable lesson about the wonders of the human mind.

            When I first met Susan Schultz in King Hall B 1009 at California State University—Los Angeles, I was amused by the fact that she was playing YouTube videos while she was discussing her blog called “tinfisheditor.”  At first, she showed the audience a clip from Planet of the Apes.  As the presentation progressed, the link to Barbra Streisand's famous performance of the song “People” did not display on the screen.  Luckily, I actually knew the lyrics to this particular song, so I delivered the performance of a lifetime by singing one of my favorite songs from the 1968 musical film Funny Girl.  That performance will always be one of the highlights of my undergraduate career at California State University—Los Angeles!

            After that amusing performance, Dr. Schultz continued her lecture by revealing more about who she is.  As she shared her writing with the audience, I realized that Dr. Schultz is actually a humble person even though she has the esteemed title of being a university professor.  As an undergraduate student, I do my best to respect my professors.  Nevertheless, I am also aware that professors are people, too.  I would sometimes feel nervous around my professors because they are more accomplished than I am, and I would never want to be rude or inappropriate around them.  Still, all professors, including Dr. Schultz, are just as human as the students that they teach.  In fact, educators are simply people who want to help others learn while they themselves learn simultaneously, and I must admit that I learned a lot while listening to Dr. Schultz.

            As the lecture progressed, Dr. Schultz read aloud, and discussed the importance of memory.  Additionally, she discussed memory as it relates to poetry.  By the end of the presentation, I learned that writing can be a method that preserves human thoughts even though the brain can only remember so much.  In fact, I once learned in a psychology class that the brain naturally deletes useless memories that are irrelevant to the present day.  In spite of this, the act of writing can preserve thoughts that people develop in their minds unless external forces destroy written work.  Because of this truth, I am compelled to save copies of writing that I produce because sometimes the writing that I create today can serve a greater purpose for tomorrow.  For example, being able to look back at writing I did in the best can remind me of how much I have grown as an individual.  The past might be in the past, but reflecting on the past can help allow me to push myself forward rather than dwell on a past I cannot change.

            After learning this great truth about memory and poetry, I hope that my writing will serve me well later in life.  In fact, the writing that I did in class, such as taking notes on a song I knew, reminds me that I can use my memory to focus on the positive aspects of my life rather than regret mistakes I had made.  The song that I wrote about with my memory was "Let It Go," and I am learning to let go of the past, and accept myself for who I truly am.  I might not have the mind of a genius, but it is comforting to know that I can actually think.  Hopefully, the thoughts in my head right now will benefit me in the future.  Specifically, being able to plan ahead for the future, and dealing with the present moment, are both much more productive activities than fixating on what has already been done and what should have been done.  Still, I must admit that it is devastating to know that my own mind can remember so much.  One of the hardest life lessons I had to learn is that forgetting is inevitable.  Psychologists have also told me that the ability to forget is actually healthy because no one would want to remember every single moment of every single day.  Nevertheless, I can still record thoughts that come to my mind on paper.  My sincerest hope is that I am able to remember what really matters in life, such as family and love, rather than trivial matters that have no relation to the present.  Therefore, I am grateful for Dr. Schultz for reminding me about the beauty of the life that I live.  I cannot change the past, but I can utilize the lessons I had learned so that I would hopefully not repeat those same mistakes.

Works Cited

Schultz, Susan.  “Memory and Forgetting: A Poetry Reading.”  California State
             University—Los Angeles English Department.  Room KH B1009 at California
             State University—Los Angeles.  9 April 2015.  Lecture.


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