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Tuesday. 12.31.13 4:55 pm
I have a problem remembering things.

I think this is something of a recent development, since I don't recall having this hard a time remembering things in my high school / early college days. For those of you who are thinking, "well that's because you've already forgotten your childhood, Muffy"....I hate you.

It began to manifest in little ways. I have a number of jump rope friends around the country who I only see every few months, and I found myself repeatedly asking the same questions about their lives only to remember that I already knew the answer! And then it was things like forgetting Friends references or jokes from movies. I had trouble remembering funny stories that had happened on trips, or even things I had read that same day in the newspaper.

It felt like I literally wasn't retaining anything.

You ever write a really shitty essay that's bloated with filler words and philosophizing, and doesn't actually make any solid points based on evidence? That was what my life started feeling like. People would ask "how have you been? What have you been up to?" and I would search back through my meager little memory and pull up some bloated essay about...nothing. Because I couldn't remember the strong points, the stuff that actually mattered and made people feel like they could relate to me.

One day I was browsing TED talks and decided to look up one about memory. I found a great video (link here) that had a pretty powerful takeaway:

Who we are is the manifestation of our memories. An emotional experience has little lasting impact if you cannot remember it."

The video brings up a good point. Are you paying attention? It's a rhetorical question. I'm not ACTUALLY asking you if you're paying attention, though by this point through the blog I wouldn't blame if you'd started skimming. I realized I pay too much attention to the thoughts in my head, even when there is so much happening around me. And even worse, I was too mentally weak to fix it.

I did some reading online and took some tips from the video, and now I'm trying to pay more attention. I'm trying to associate key thoughts and must-remember ideas to certain locations. I watch a TV show and try to recount the important plot points and exactly what made me laugh (30 Rock, ftw). At the end of every day I try to recall exactly what I did, focusing on the details...not because it really matters, but because my brain needs the practice. This ish is hard! I'm starting from the bottom, like a fat kid training to run a marathon. Here's to 2014 and lots of MEMORABLE new experiences.

Happy new year,

Do not try to bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead, try to realize the truth. There is no spoon. Then you will see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

Are you on any meds? That could have something to do with your memory. I found out that some of the stuff I'm on keeps things from entering your long term memory... so I have the same problem. "What have you been up to?" "Um... work... sleep... food?" Do you have a link to that TED talk? I'd like to watch it :)
» jabberwock on 2014-01-01 02:02:45


I've been trying to do similar reflection strategies for reading. I'm horrible at remembering what I've read long after finishing a book. I'll remember liking a book but have no clue as to what was in it.
Generally I tend to remember things I recall thinking about or considering.
It's not great.
» invisible on 2014-01-01 06:59:18

It's funny because I was actually having the same experience as you just described. I felt like my mental faculties had been sort of switched off.... like when you are staring into space and you look through everything rather than at it, only instead of doing this with my eyes I was doing it with my mind. Then I found this exact TED talk and I was totally amazed and inspired by it. I started trying to memorize all kinds of little things-- phone numbers, data points, etc., mostly by putting them in a row of post-boxes in my mind. Now what I've been working on is memorizing all of my favorite poems. I'm up to about five poems now, and whenever I'm in the subway or waiting for somebody I recite them in my mind. It has really made me feel a lot better and gone a long way towards clearing out my weird mental haze. I think I'll share your resolution... we can see how many things we can memorize in a year! ;)
» Zanzibar on 2014-01-02 08:28:19

ps-- I think this also ties into the idea of mindfulness, like how they say that you shouldn't eat while you watch TV because you aren't concentrating on what you eat and how it tastes, you are just mindlessly shoveling food into your mouth. Or when you wake up, to take just a moment and center yourself and notice things around you.
» Zanzibar on 2014-01-02 08:30:21

Maybe you should blog more. :P That helps me remember stuff.
» randomjunk on 2014-01-03 06:09:00

luckily i can remember every book's plot i have read. and i can remember people's wrongdoing for aeons... ouch. time to switch to positive thinking. =)
» renaye on 2014-01-05 09:04:23

Yeah! I've been going to the gym ~10 hours a week for a few weeks now! And if you want a summary of my life recently, I can give you a short version, haha.
» randomjunk on 2016-02-01 03:10:11



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