Do You Remember The Green Vase?

I had a very interesting conversation with my soon to be Ex-wife just recently.  I was very fortunate to have been married to a very caring and sensitive woman for the best part of 17 years and though things didn’t work out between us, we have remained extremely good friends.

A couple of days ago my ex rang me up and asked me if I wanted the green vase that used to sit on the mantlepiece above the fire in our last home together.  I didn’t take the call so she left a message on my answerphone.

It has been four years since we last lived together and much water has passed under our respective bridges since that time.  Our shared belongings have been appropriately distributed and new ones have taken the place of things that we didn’t keep.  So when my Ex offered tolet me have something that bore the hallmark of our shared times together, I was touched.


Do you think I could remember what this vase looked like?

Well no I couldn’t.  I mean it was 4 years ago and it was only a vase and if I do remember correctly my love for vases at that time was about as great as my love for other things that I really don’t love at all.  I can’t rememeber what this thing looked like, who gave it to us or even if it existed at all!

I mean….errr… it’s a vase……and apparantly it is green…

So why is it that, especially as my Ex gleefully pointed out I am supposed to be a memory expert, that I can’t remember the existence of this ornament?

Well there are a host of reasons….

I suppose you want them now do you…?

“Come on Tipper” I hear you say  “Spill the beans on why you forgot”.

Well that does assume that I have forgotten about the vase which may not be the case.


Well you can only forget something that you have once had in your memory so if I never saw the vase I can hardly be accused of forgetting it can I?

“But it was on your mantlepiece above your fire!!!!”

Mmmmmm good point and well made.  Well I don’t think I can wriggle out of this one so let’s really look at why I am unable to recall the existence of this vase (by the way as soon as I see it I am sure that I will say “Oh THAT vase!”). So in no particular order of importance here are the probable reasons why I have no recollection of said vase:

1.   It has been over 4 years since I last saw the vase (you try remembering little irrelevant details from back then).
2.   If you ask my wife how interested in vases I was at that time on a scale of 1-10 she would ask whether or not there was a negative range on that scale – so clearly I wasn’t even interested in it back then either and probably didn’t even acknowledge its existence!
3.   I didn’t like the vase

So my theory is that it is a combination of time fading something that I was not very interested in at all – quite a reasonable thing to happen even to a memory expert :-) .

If you have ever had the experience of something like that happening to you it is so easy to jump to the conclusion that because you can’t remember something then your memory must be at fault.  Many people make that assumption and often create beliefs that don’t support them having a good memory by the process of affirming that they have a failing one.

Now you should know that your memory is absolutely perfect – it is just that it is your recall at fault.  If I was to be hypnotised and asked about the vase, I could probably tell you whilst in a trance, every tiny detail about that vase even though I may be consciously unaware that I have even seen it.

My challenge in this instance is that my recall is at fault and not my memory.  I’d love to be able to access those memories consciously but unfortunately I can’t (at least not for the foreseeable future).

But is it really my recall at fault or has my mind just discarded the need to have that as a readily accessible memory?  I am not sure whether anyone really knows the answer to that question.  The fact remains, I can’t recall what the vase looks like however I don’t feel bad about it because it is not that important to me so I am not going to beat myself up about it.

I am firmly of the opinion that you do not have to be able to remember everything to function in this amazing world of ours and so not being able to remember a vase is just one of those things.

However I am also firmly of the opinion that we do have the choice to be able to remember anything that we want to for as long as we want to if it is important enough to us and we use the right strategy or technique.

So the next green vase that I run into……