Last Friday, the call came while I was at work. “Paul, when can we pick up that cornet mouthpiece? The concert is Sunday afternoon, you know.” I searched my suddenly blank memory and then was reminded that I had received a text the preceding Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the connection between the text received on my cell phone and the stock orders placed that week hadn’t been made. Once again, the curse of the chaotic, hectic schedule that rules my life during most days has claimed another victim. At least, that’s what I want to believe. I prefer not to think that my brain is aging at the same pace as my body.
I find that I’m often faced with the reality that is a forgetful mind. It’s probable that I’ve always been forgetful of some things, going back to my teenage years, maybe even earlier than that. I admit, my absentmindedness can be selective, with those items which are important to me having a much better chance of sticking in the gray matter. I also find that most people I know are faced with the same problem.
I listened with gratification as a friend of mine related a conversation he had some time ago with a student of his. “Dr. P, do you remember…”, began the student, only to be summarily interrupted by my friend. “Stop right there! Was it more than 20 minutes ago?” The student nodded his head. “Was it less than 20 years ago?” Again, the student replied in the affirmative. The judgment came, “I don’t remember.” I can so identify with his conclusion!
My short term memory is often limited to a very short term, but I remember events and people from 20 years ago as if it were yesterday. A customer may have spent a couple of thousand dollars in my store within the last 4 or 5 months, and I can’t remember who they are, but let a patron who purchased a fifty dollar amplifier twenty-five years ago walk through the front door, and I can remember not only his name, but often the brand of amplifier he bought from me. It would be nicer if I could remember the more recent events, since my business is sometimes affected by the lack of recollection. Let’s face it; everyone wants to feel important, and if an individual makes a significant purchase in my business, they want to be remembered.
When I talk about my lack of cognitive skills in this area, most of my friends want to offer advice. I’ve been given a profusion of suggestions for remembering people and events, from memorizing facial features to mnemonic devices, all of which have proved useless to me. My undisciplined brain can’t remember to employ the devices for the same reason that I forget things in the first place; The events come at me too fast. Before I can hang up the phone and complete the task requested by the caller, someone is talking in my ear from beside me, while an email arrives, also demanding attention. I’ve decided that the laissez faire approach to life serves well here. The French colloquialism means, literally, “let them get on with it”. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m peddling as fast as I can! Let the chips fall where they may. We’ll probably all get by.
Once in awhile, I do have to apologize for my selective amnesia. Although I don’t intend it, some folks may think I do it on purpose and be offended. I don’t remember who they are and hope none of them is reading this today, but just in case…I’m still sorry!
I know I started out to make a point with this blog, but right now, I just don’t recall what it was. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about when I was a kid. That, I can remember!
“Men are men. The best sometimes forget.”