The Fallibility of memory

It’s funny, but today a quote I’ve had in my head since the tender age of seven or eight, from my headmaster repeating it again and gain for us to reflect on is assembly, has turned out to be “wrong” all along! Instead of me having forgotten it however I am choosing instead to think of myself having remembered it differently. From doing so, I now have two alternate perspectives to the quote; my ‘faulty’ memory has actually broadened my mind!

I remembered, and have repeated to myself for years:

“In this world of little care, we have no time to stop and stare”

From which I took the meaning that “stopping and staring” was a good thing to do. I learnt to observe the world around me, to take the time to admire things instead of passing through and being indifferent and uncaring. Being able to stop and take a breather is a necessary part of life, I’ve leant that over the years and came to respect the diligence and attention to detail such a saying encouraged.

However… the actual quote, I have learnt today from googling the above in hope of discovering the original context, reads:

“What is life if full of care, we have no time to stop and stare”

It is originally from the poem Leisure by William Henry Davies, it turns out and when I saw it I did remember there being more verses to it, but these too had slipped my mind.

Now this actual quote seems to suggest something different to me. Life is full of “care”, but this is unspecified. Is it perhaps suggesting we should be ‘out there’ caring for things? For people? To me, it seems to be suggesting that stopping and staring, lingering and not living life to the full is a negative thing. We should be showing we care, and stopping and staring is not the thing to do, “we have no time” for it, apparently. We should be getting on with life. This too is a good message but I’m so used to the first outlook on life, it’s been stored away in my head for so long that to change it would be very difficult. 

Being able to see these two perspectives however that I may never have considered otherwise because my memory had not served perfectly is actually a treat, not an aggravation. Both perspectives are useful and valid outlooks on life, and I think I can relate to and learn from both of them. I wonder if I were to ask Mr Rivers, that teacher from years ago what he meant by it what he would say to me… 

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