Sunday, February 17, 2008

What was this column about, again?

Published February 17, 2008
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

The other day i had the opportunity to entertain the students I work with when I had to call a locksmith to get my keys out of my minivan which was locked up tight in the school's parking lot. I don't think the girls would have laughed so hard if it weren't the third time I've had to make that call from that parking lot in the last 12 months. The fact that I actually had a way into the van when I saw the driver side door hadn't locked and then went around and manually locked it without thinking didn't help either.

Fortunately for me, the locksmith was efficient and kind and my insurance reimburses. Commenting to one student after I retrieved my keys, I said, "You know, what I really need is the tool that guy had. Then, whenever I lock my keys in the car, I can just pop it open again." She smirked and replied, "Where are you going to keep that tool? In the car?"

I'm learning about memory in one of my classes at school, and I'm ever astounded by the miracle of the human brain. That is to say, I'm ever astounded by other people's brains. When I lose my keys, my train of thought, and my sense of direction in my own house all within moments of each other, I'm astounded by the fact that I manage to make it through a day without feeling my own brain oozing out of my skull through my ears.

There is, however, an upside to being absent-minded. You get much more done than a person who knows exactly what they want to do and how to do it. Don't believe me? See below:

Between writing the two paragraphs above, I got up from my computer for some reason I can't remember, went upstairs, turned on the heaters, turned off excess lights, reapplied the weather stripping to the back door, started a fresh load of laundry, warmed up a piece of banana bread and grabbed a glass of milk. Now that I'm back at my desk, I still don't remember what I supposed to do, but if it was one of those things, I'm set.

(It's an hour later now, and I'm finally remembering. I was supposed to take my contact lenses out. Last night.)

There is good news for the memory challenged out there. My textbook is loaded with tricks to help with memory retrieval. For instance, did you know that you remember things better in the same context and location in which you first thought of them? So, if you're struggling to remember something, simply go back to the place where you first thought of whatever it may be, and the familiar sights and sounds should jog your memory.

I don't know about you, but I do my best thinking and planning in the shower. All I have to do if I can't remember what I had planned for the day is to return to my shower and let it flow back into me. Of course, for most of my day, I'm nowhere near my shower, so I'll have to borrow someone else's. Or find some sprinklers. Or pray for rain.

Of course, I'd have to be in the shower to remember all of that.