The Psychology of Doing ~ To Verb and to be Verbed
I was thinking earlier today about how easy it is for me to remember things that have happened to me in the past. Usually these things are negative. It builds this impression in your mind that history has it out to get you and that can be very overwhelming. But I was also thinking that as more and more time passes I am less and less convinced that my experiences are unique to me or that I am suffering from some kind of unique mental problem.
My brain is very likely not wired special for me to remember those bad memories better than other people do. If it were I suspect less music would be about breakups long after they’ve happened. To oversimplify the world I look at it as to verb or to be verbed.
In my youth I had some emotional instability possibly associated with the attempt on my life or just the normal sociopathic nature of being a teen and pre-teen. But for the life of me I can barely remember a single mean thing that I did to people. I know it is there, I can feel the general mélange but I just can’t find the original prints. Those memories have been lost which suggests to me that my brain does not consider them important.
What I can remember is every moderately important wrong that has ever happened to me. For instance allow me to paint a picture for you. I’ve just gotten the ability to drive alone in my car. I decide I want to go down to the mall and I turn right out of my neighborhood. Looking back on it now it would have made much more sense to turn left but I was young and you cannot change the past. I made my way down Old Military and turned left onto whatever the name of that expressway is (although I don’t think they are called expressways in Washington or Bremerton). I realize almost immediately that I’ve made an error.
The traffic is far too fast for me and there are way too many cars. In my haste to try and get off to the right most lane (and as far as my young mind could establish ‘safe’) I cut off a red mustang. I would have never known I had done it if not for the endless blaring of their horn. This long rigid tone that carried for probably five to ten seconds and then stopped. I remember the sweat pooling on my body and realizing that I had just ruined their day.
I’d make it up passed the farms and to the hill that leads up to Ridgetop before they’d make themselves known again. The mustang pulled out from beside me and the passenger was very literally sitting on the windowsill of the doorway. I can’t recall if I was getting the bird or not but I was very much getting a swinging hand in the air and endless shouts from a stranger. This isn’t a school zone road either, we are moving fast enough that if their car had hit a bump that man would have fallen to his death.
It’s the only time I can recall ever, for sure, being honked at. It’s the only time in traffic I’ve ever nearly come to having an accident. I remember it quite often along with various other incidents where I went from the verb to the verbed. I wonder if they ever remember that day. Considering how much difficulty I have remembering anyone that does stupid things on the roads in California I don’t know. For them I am likely a forgotten footnote in their memories. They were the verb and as such they had nothing they needed to remember.
A lion does not remember that it ate a Hyena, but it will never forget when a Hyena tears a chunk out of its shoulder. Because remembering what you’ve done is less likely to keep you alive than remembering what has been done to you.
Naturally there are times where I was verbed because of some verb that I had committed before them. Those incidents I remember only vaguely by association. But overall it’s a fog.
I imagine that our psychology is much less diverse than we would like to believe. This can be anecdotally proven by taking your strangest characteristic and finding out if it is unique on Reddit. The weirdest parts of you that you think define you are likely not. If they were there would be a lot of other people, millions, tens of millions, maybe more, that would be you. There is probably some disconnection between the conscious and the subconscious at play here.
If I had to guess, our subconscious probably has considerably less to do with what we define as us compared to our conscious. Your decision to take up piano when I took up writing is what separates us. Not the subconscious quirks that likely all lead back to vestigial survival mechanisms of our past.
Again, oversimplifying, but I was driving alone today and it gave me a little time to reflect.