Why recreate places?

Sometimes, when my mind goes blank and I forget the idea about which I was thinking, remembering is as simple as returning to the place where I had the idea. If I can recreate the setting—the appearance, sounds, or smells of my surroundings—the lost thought usually rushes back. For example, if I am struck by inspiration on a toilet, the distractions of the world beyond the towel-racked door have a way of snatching away my contemplations as soon as I step outside the bathroom. However, if I return to the bathroom, sit back down, and spin the roll of toilet paper around a little, I recreate a memory through actions in the present, and my forgotten thoughts will inevitably return. Sometimes, I do not even have to sit back down: as soon as I open the bathroom door the color of the wallpaper or a particular pattern of dirt on the floor will instantly jog my memory.

Similarly, by reconstructing images of rooms and places, I am able to recreate the memories that those places hold for me. As I work to recall the details of a space, such as the arrangement of furniture or the placement of a sun-catcher, the details of people and conversations return as well. Visual and spatial memories elicit aural memories and buried emotions, and so the process of reconstructing places helps me to remember specific characteristics of people and the complexities of my interactions with them.

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