What Makes a Memory?
Written By karibu box

It’s the things that stand out that stick in our minds.

by James Hattam, 26th July 2020


My memory is a sieve. Whether it’s a date or time, a name or place, a story or crucially important detail - you can rely on me to forget it.

To the horror and dismay of my friends and family vast chunks of my childhood and adolescence are missing from my mind.

“How can you not remember that?!” 

I really don’t know. Maybe in the past I took a knock to the head...?

Not sure - can’t remember!

I suppose the really frustrating thing for those subject to my memory loss is the fact that it’s completely inconsistent. Whilst names, important dates, critical information etc are guaranteed as lost and permanently forgotten, I possess an unbelievable capacity to retain the most obscure, peculiar, and probably useless information.

An example: My primary education. What was it like? Who taught me? What did I learn? Who did I play in the Christmas nativity? Did I have school dinners?!!!

Only a few details can be recalled from SEVEN YEARS of my existence. I know, it’s bad. I do remember being happy though Mum!!!

The memory of my 10th Birthday party however - crystal clear. I think I could account for most of the details - who was invited, where it was, what we did, what we had for dinner.

I know, so weird! But it got me thinking, ‘What makes a memory?’.

Pre-warning - the analysis below is debased of any real research or evidence, only the internal musings of my brain. 

A theory: the things that stand out are the things that stick in our minds.

Why do I remember my 10th Birthday party? It’s because I hosted a football party when I didn’t really play football. It’s because one of my school friends got sick from eating the black bits off the astroturf. It’s because, I’m pretty sure we got BANNED from the chinese restaurant afterwards due to the feral behaviour of me and my ten year old friends.

10th Birthday Party

It was unusual to say the least. In short, I remember it because it was so different to every other day in my life at that time. 

Is this anecdote leading anywhere? Yes.

We all want to have good memories, but how can we guarantee that we’re making them?

The day-to-day may well be forgotten in the future, but what’s really important? And how can we make those things stick in our memories for years to come?

Choose the thing that stands out.

Part of our daily work routine at karibu is taking the boxes down to the post office to send. We pack them into postal bags, load them into Benj’s car, drive down to the post office, unload the boxes, and dispatch them.  It’s a pretty ordinary part of everyday life - a part likely to be forgotten in years to come.  

Benji posting karibu boxes

But clearing out Benj’s garage we rediscovered an old mini. It had broken down a long time ago and would need a lot of love before it could ever be driven again. 

“Why don’t we start using that to drop the boxes off?”, we thought. 

It didn’t make any sense. Benj’s car works well. It’s big enough for us and all of the boxes, and we’ve never had any trouble with it. The mini is old, prone to regular breakdown, and impractical - it’s really mini!

But it stands out, and I know that it’ll stick in our minds.

So last week, we put the mini into the garage for all the love and repairs it required, and in a few days time we’ll be squeezing into it to take our boxes to be dispatched. 

Benj and James watch as the mini goes in for repairs.

As we enter the ‘new normal’, what are the things we’re doing to make the ordinary, memorable?

Let’s not forget - it’s the things that stand out that stick in our minds.