Well, yes, it’s all about attention. And having an orientation to the world and experiences that is both particularly pragmatic and thoroughly meaningful.*
We all possess selective memories. Awareness and attention, perception, gets focused–or at least has fuzzy limits at a given moment of time–so as to encompass only so much. We’ll oftentimes acknowledge the variety of material and contradictions represented in such slices and mosaics of memories-of-lived-experiences and social interactions, but memory? Nothing more than our decision to focus attention on a generalized view or impression of a situation, person, environment, or constellation of factors that (which? hehe) come together in the unfolding of our lifetimes. Now, as with everything, we are capable of shaping our impressions sufficiently so that they are reduced to a complete distortion of the actual range of qualities they supposedly represent. What this reflects, however, because it is only a simplification, and now has attempted to distill a very large number of moments and social exchanges (or, alternatively, a–relatively or absolutely–very limited reference pool of the same, is far from many of the momentary constructions we actually used, and communicated, in original/spontaneous engagements. (In the case of limited exchange/s, the construction tends to be more dependent upon generic factors and individual sensitivities.) Oh wait–individual sensitivities is useful even in the longer term: We, and our environments, are changing on several scales at once. There’s the momentary shifts in moods and basics. Then we have “phases” that get recognized when more moments accumulate. And then, I suppose, the image of how those phases add up to produce who and what we are, once again, /in the moment/.
If we acknowledge the selective character of memory, enacted as a temporal process, we then see how much the act of remembering says about the actor eliciting and invoking memories. We can all recall positive, neutral, and negative aspects of the people, places, things, and ideas we (have) encounter (encountered). Where we choose to place the emphasis sends a signal of its own–and initiates other loops.** When we choose to empathize and confer the benefit-of-the-doubt, rather than construct an illusory tower of assumptions to fill in blanks, we open a discursive field that allows for deeper levels of mutual understanding.
* Read: receptive orientation.
** Incomplete, but wrapping it up for this moment, because I’ve already pushed through a few physiologically-generated stop signals.