Memory is a Funny Thing

Memory is a Funny Thing

Memory is a funny thing.  I am sure we were all great athletes, once upon a time.  For some of us it is remembrances from high school or college.  I’ve met quite a few people that when I listen to their stories, I am convinced they are referencing some major accomplishment when they were in elementary school.

We remember things as we want to remember them.  I had a very odd experience today.  It is a shared memory experience in fact with my wife.  Perhaps her memory of the incident is influenced by having heard me tell the story so often that it is now part of our collective memory.  This may be similar to the way many people remember their early childhood back to a time that they could not possibly remember an incident, some time before they were even born.  Some family occasions that have been passed down are now part of their remembrances.

The story I am telling about myself concerns an athlete I once worked with.  She was an elite athlete and I was helping her prepare for the national and world championships in her sport.  I worked with her for over a year.  I was with her at the National Championships, where she placed 3rd.  Here’s where it gets sketchy.  I was invited first by the competitor, then by her mother and finally her sponsor to be with her at the World Championships.  They wanted me there to support her.  I had two reasons for declining the invitation.  I should mention that it would have been financially beneficial for me to support her there.  It would have also been great for my reputation working with elite athletes.   What happened next?

I declined the invitation on the basis that she didn’t need me there.  It was a self confidence thing and I wanted her to understand that she was in control.  My other reason for not going, which I did not tell them was out of embarrassment.  It was a silly thing really.  I did not possess a passport.  These people were world travelers. The World Championships were in Europe, in a country that no longer actually exists.  I was embarrassed because I thought they would think less of me because obviously I was not a world traveler.  The athlete did great.  She won the bronze medal and qualified for the Olympics.  I had done my job.  I felt great, until her coach fired me, but that is another story all together.

So what does this have to do with memory?  I am putting some things together for my book “The Athlete within You”.  I needed a few extra stories and some accomplishments for book signings and public relations information.  A friend reading the story about the World Championships asked me to write down the city in Europe where the World Championship took place.  As I couldn’t spell it properly, I goggled the year and the event.  Did you know that Cincinnati was right in the middle of Yugoslavia?   I was astounded.  I double and triple checked, but that year, the unlikely place for the World Championships, was Cincinnati, OH.  How could I have gotten this so wrong?  What’s even stranger is I asked my wife what she remembers and it is exactly as I told the story hundreds of times.  So do you think I can get spaghetti and chili in that suburb called Cincinnati, Yugoslavia?

So take this one from me.  Memory is a fickle thing.  When someone regales you with stories of their athletic youth, remember it is likely what they want to remember or mistakenly put together.  Of course if you are hearing about my athletic prowess back in college or high school, take it to the bank; it really happened exactly that way.

To help keep my memory intact and so that I am not alone in telling stories about myself, feel free to tell one on yourself in the comment box.  It’s good for the soul!  I look forward to reading your memories, real and imagined.



  1. Hi Mike,
    This was a great article about memory; unfortunately, I dont have any great memories of being athletic, because I wasnt.
    So, if you like I can make up something; I have a vivid imagination, just no athleticism.

    • Peter- People don’t have to be athletes to embellish their past. You may have memories of fixing a computer that no one else could fix. You did all of these steps to get it back. Then there was the little button that said on that you pushed and bam it was back working. If you didn’t go through all of the steps, you never would have known to push the button. There are lots of things in our lives that we can choose to remember well or we can also create a bad memory. I would rather have people focus on good things and even make them a little larger than life. The opposite for a bad memory. Let it go and fade away.

  2. Hi Mike!

    If you’re reading this you can forget about our discussion right after the bloggers meeting this afternoon.

    I really enjoyed your blog because, as an over-the-hill athlete myself, I can identify. Somehow that single in the bottom of the 7th inning my sophomore year of baseball has turned into a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 9th. At least that’s how I’m remembering it now.

    Regards – Doug

    • Doug- Thanks for the comment. Things do tend to become embellished over time. But it is also a part of our experience that brings us joy. As long as someone doesn’t completely live in the past your Grand Salami servers as a marker for your youth and that is a great thing.

  3. Hello Mike,

    I enjoyed reading about your experiences. Sports are wonderful for those who follow it and as it happens, I never got into it. However, your story applies well to all industries, mine included.

    There have been a few engagements I did not accept when times were good due to the travel involved. Anything over 30 minutes driving time is not good…LOL! Now I am taking on clients with greater than 30 minutes driving time.

    Warm Regards,


    • Thanks Randal, I appreciate your visiting my site. I’m looking forward to reading your new blog.