An apt one today to observe my past.
Let me share a memory with you. It’s a childhood memory, about an event from when I was around 13 or 14 years old. My father and I are playing soccer together. He is the goalkeeper, standing between the posts, I am the striker, taking shots from outside the box. My dad has been encouraging me to shoot with my weaker left foot, to develop the skills that come more easily on my more natural right side. He throws the ball to me, I control it on my chest, let it drop, and hit a sweetly-timed volley with the outside of my left foot. The ball arcs perfectly towards the goal. My dad moves across to save, although I’m not sure he has it covered, and then the ball thunders off the crossbar. Even though I didn’t score, I have an intense feeling of satisfaction, of executing a near perfect left foot volley, the quality of which I have struggled to reproduce in the intervening years. This memory has a rich phenomenology: it involves visual and motor imagery as well as emotion. Yet there’s an important feature of this memory, which is perhaps not apparent in the way I describe it. As this dynamic and evocative memory unfolds, I see not only my father, the ball, and the goal, but myself too. I see myself in the remembered scene, from the outside, as if someone had filmed us playing together and I am watching the old footage.
Such memories are called “observer memories.”