Scientists have recently discovered that every time a long-term memory is recalled it is temporarily as vulnerable to modification and loss as short-term memories are. In fact, the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is all too possible, not as far-fetched as you might think. If you can get somebody to recall a specific long-term memory and inject them with a certain drug while they're thinking about it, you can actually - in real life - obliterate that memory forever. The point I'm making here is that our long-term memories are not as solidified in our brains as once thought; in fact like the wearing out of a cassette tape by repeatedly listening to it, the more times we recall a long-term memory the more it degrades because we tend to modify little details of them every time we think about them before putting them away again. So I'm going to start writing about some of my most cherished memories while I can before they are so irrevocably changed in my mind that they barely resemble the original memory.

I'm starting with one of my earliest memories. Actually it's not a specific event but more a one memory summarizing many events. Or the memory I'm thinking of may actually be of one specific time but I'm not sure.

But I have a fond recollection of going grocery shopping with my mom and riding in the cart. Well who doesn't have a memory like that? But the caveat here is that I associate those early, very early trips with the jazz flute. This would be the early 1980s (I mean like '79, '80, '81, '82) and the easy-listening grocery store music at the time was jazz flute-filled hippie tunes from the 60s and 70s. Unlike music you might hear today at grocery stores they may not have even been specific songs; I'm not sure, they could have been instrumental compositions created for the sole purpose of being played in grocery stores and the like and reflected the musical sensibilities of the day. Or they could have been songs by Jethro Tull and the like.

Whatever the music was, the soundtrack of my memory of rattling by the produce section and looking up at the gigantic pictures of various fruits and vegetables includes the jazz flute. I didn't know at the time it was called the jazz flute, or even that it was a flute, the music was just kind of there and I didn't really appreciate the musical part of the memory until later in life. In fact I went through a period in the late 80's and early 90's where I rejected the stupid old things of that period - the clothing and the music and whatnot - and whenever we'd be presented with an outdated filmstrip in classes that featured such things I would look on them in scorn.

But at some point years ago I realized how wonderful this memory is and how much the light, jazzy music contributed to that. Well I still don't like bellbottom pants very much, even though they'd briefly become popular again a few years ago. However, now whenever I hear the jazz flute a grin might creep across my face and I will always think about those trips to the grocery store with my mom, riding in the shopping cart, listening to that hippie music.

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