David Isay on selective memory
Krista Tippett interviewed David Isay for her show On Being. He talked about interviewing his father and his story highlights the gap between what we remember from an interview and what actually transpired in that interview.
DI: I remember that I asked him when we were in the StoryCorps interview, “What are you proudest of in life?” And my memory of that was that he said “the books I’ve written.” And I always teased him. I said, “Dad, we’ve done, whatever, 10,000, 20,000, as time went on, 50,000 interviews, and everybody says their kids. And you, the one person, you said, ‘my books.’” And I just endlessly went after him, and the night he died, I listened to the interview, and I said, “What are you proudest of?” And he said “My kids.”
KT: Was that exchange even in there? What you remember? You just didn’t remember it?
DI. ISAY: Yes, and then he said, “I’m also proud of my books.”
Takeaway: Record your interviews and go back to those recordings — don’t rely on your memory!