How many of us go through our lives pressing an imaginary "Record" button? It's a way of trying to memorize the past while it is still present, so one can learn from it later on or just enjoy the memory.
I read this great article in Rumpus, "The Heroic Lie: A Brief Inquiry into the Fake Memoir," about what constitutes lying in creative non-fiction. The answer is unclear because memory is based on perception. We don't necessarily remember things as we actually witnessed them and we probably witnessed subjectively.
For example, for years I remembered my family's Christmas tree from when I was really young as this huge, twinkling thing. Then a few years ago I saw a picture of it. A picture of a small, sparsely branched fake tree that didn't glow or twinkle. I had remembered it differently for all of those years because it did look huge to me, a small child, and I was so excited about Santa and presents that the tree seemed magical. Also, I seemed to be confusing our simple tree with the tree from a Nutcracker animated production.
If I had described my old tree as I remembered it, before I saw that picture a few years ago, would I be lying? By some definitions, yes, because it wasn't big. It didn't glow. But that's how I saw it. And if I wrote about the simple tree as the glorious one I apparently imagined, who could accuse me of lying?
What makes it even more complicated is that now I remember the tree from the picture, not the tree I saw as a child. Photographs and other artifacts that hold the past can change our memories. I recently realized that I hold onto these artifacts because a part of me thinks they will transport me back in time. These objects seem to make my memories tangible. They are a way to literally hold onto the past.
This creates huge ethical issues in creative non-fiction because the facts can't really be verified. And they aren't really facts, as much as testimony is valued when history is logged. Truth becomes a subjective term dependent as much on sentiment as on facts.