Since I had to change the links to my publications due to some obscure passage of pdfs from one folder to another, I had a chance to have a look at all the papers I published so far. 40 total, 28 as first author, 4 under review (2 as first author, other 2 under review). Surprisingly (or not, upon further reflection) I barely remember the content of most of my papers and I have little idea on how they were originally thought, what was the development, what was the contribution of co-authors, why I used certain methods and not others. I saw big tables I did not remember I had prepared. I saw a Figure in which fish are one year older than what they should be (I also thought I sent the correct Figure during the revision process, apparently not). I read long Introductions and longer Discussions (I write a lot, no doubt). I remember long struggles to get papers accepted even if I currently do not remember the major contentious points.
Just to be clear, I do not have any memory disorder. However, I have published in many different areas, in part because I prefer to zig-zag than follow a straight-ish line, in part because I have been supported by soft money throughout all my career and I haven't been too rigid in my research/grant choices. I also tried to use novel methods (for me or in general), since I like to challenge myself and expand my research tools. I tend to go very deep and very fast in my research and this - like cramming for a test - is not conducive to long-term retention of information.
This "discovery" made me think about my research trajectory, what kind of tools and skills I have acquired, and whether production of science is like the production of eggs in fish: you give your contribution and you let it find its way.