Monday, February 07, 2005


Memory is a curious thing. They say our mind thinks in patterns. It catalogs similar things and it "notices� the unusual. If we were conscious of the millions of pieces of information our minds receive daily, we�d blow a fuse. (Well, at least I would.)

Instead, thousands of millions of bits of information come streaming into our grey matter without needing full attention. It�s kind of like being in a crowded room where everyone is talking. You can hear a din without really understanding a word. Unless of course, you focus on someone nearby, or hear your name called. Suddenly, you are fully aware of the subject and even individual words.

It is for just this reason that I try to develop habits, very mundane habits. You know, a behavior pattern developed by frequent repetition. I keep my socks and shirts facing the same direction. That way I never have to LOOK in the drawer, I just REACH in the drawer. I put on and take off all the gear I use each day in the same order. That way my mind is free to think of anything it wants, while I go through the routine motions of say, getting dressed for work. These patterns are especially important since I get up while it�s still dark out, and I don�t want to wake the wife.

But everyone is not like that. My wife, for example, will remove the keys to her car and set them on the floor after stopping. No, I don�t know why. There is no habit she follows, like for example, putting them in her purse so that she doesn�t forget and lock herself out of the car, so that she'd have to call her husband at work to come and let her in. (I�m just speaking hypothetically here.)

Now, I try to help folks understand this basic technique of mine, thinking that it could be most helpful to them, but they don�t seem to appreciate my suggestions. Like: �You know if you follow a pattern, you�ll never forget and leave your purse at someone�s house.� (I�m just giving examples here. They have no resemblance to any occurrence or individuals.)

I do use kind words such as �This works for me because I haven�t forgotten my keys inside my car EVER.� But this seems to make matters worse.

So if, for example, someone locked their keys in the car and then retrieved an extra key that was put in a purse that was left over someone�s house, that would mean that the extra key at someone�s house would not be available to open the car that has the key locked inside, which has been left at a public parking lot. (I�m just speaking purely to illustrate how non-patterned behavior can get a person into a predicament.)

This is no big deal because, let�s say a person got into this tight spot. Well they could simply ask me and I�d just give them the extra key I have. It�s always carefully placed in my top drawer right here�hey, where are my keys? Did someone take my keys? I ALWAYS put them here, in this SAME place. Eric, are you playing with my mind?

Rats. Don�t� let me forget, I�ll have to get back to you on this.

I forgot to remember.