Emotion: The Foundation of Memory

3 08 2013

I believe the memories that stay with us the longest are those associated with strong emotion. The foundation of memory is, in fact, emotion. The joy of your child being born or your favorite Christmas; the fear of a dog attack; or the sorrow one feels when a loved one or pet dies. It makes no difference…the emotion plants the memory. If you experience a strong emotion related to an event, you’ll never forget the moment. Here is a story I will never forget because I realized at the moment it happened, just how bad things could have been.

There was a Sunday morning during my 16 year tenure as a sixth-grade Sunday school teacher, at a time when we still dressed up to go to church, when I was standing in the door welcoming the kids as they entered the classroom. There were about six or eight girls and five or six boys in class that morning. Among the sixteen classes I taught, I recall this one well because there was a small group of three boys who were particularly annoying and often required a little extra attention. They were rude and unruly and my instruction to every class was if they were disruptive, I would deliver them to their parents who were sitting in their own adult classes. That warning was usually pretty effective and to my recollection, in the sixteen years I taught, only once did I make good on that promise.

As the last child entered the room and it became time to begin class, I closed the door and took my position of authority at the front of the classroom. As I was about to begin, one little girl sitting on the front row grabbed my attention. “Psst, Mr. Taylor.” She motioned me in her direction. As I approached her, reaching up to grab my necktie, she pulled me down close enough so she could whisper in my ear, “Zip your pants.”

There is no doubt that had she not brought that fashion fuax pas to my attention, the boys in that class would have been unmerciful.  I don’t think I ever really expressed how grateful I was, to her, for bringing that to my attention. And while words cannot adequately express the gratitude I felt toward her at that moment, that’s all I could offer. I certainly couldn’t have this 12 year-old girl go home from church and tell her parents that Mr. Taylor hugged her, although her help was worthy. So, thank you, Jana Fogleman, thank you, thank you, thank you!

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