“The brain is configured in such a way that you can’t remember pain. You remember that something hurt
and that it should be avoided, but the actual sensation itself
isn’t stored in long-term memory.”
My wife’s friend, the psychology major, was talking. I
nodded and agreed and started thinking about how much
my hands hurt last month when I broke them both. If the
memory wasn’t stored in my brain, it must have been
stored in my fingers, because they all started hurting again.
I thought about my knees and they started hurting too.
Same goes for my ankles, hips, feet and ribs. I wouldn’t
dream of contradicting the experts in the field, but clearly
there was more to the story. The whole thing about pain
and long-term memory is irrelevant if the pain never
actually goes away. In my world, soreness and aches are
permanent house guests that serve as willing reminders of
the moment of onset.
On the other hand, there’s clearly some truth there—
some pain is forgotten immediately. If I had clear, perfect
recall of suffering, then I wouldn’t have purchased a 1988
Kawasaki KDX200 last week. My memory was already
eroded from one year ago when I found a 14-year-old
Honda CR250R and then spent a horrifying amount of time
rebuilding it, only to discover that I didn’t like riding it that
much. Now I was about to suffer through the rebuilding
process all over again, only I was starting with a motorcycle
that was much older and much more outdated. The KDX
was missing a number of parts, there was extensive crash
damage, and even though it ran, it certainly didn’t run well.
“I mixed the gas at 3:1, just like it says on the sticker,” said
“I think that sticker used to say 32:1. See, it’s scratched