One of the things that bugs me about being “only human” is the corresponding fuzziness of memory. I’ve known some people that have a knack for remembering specifics — I am not one of them.
In reality, I think I’ve trained my brain to be a rapid consumer of information, but not hold on to it for any length of time. I’m too used to absorbing a lot of information, but not giving it enough importance to stick around. Maybe I just don’t think about it enough; maybe there’s something else.
If there’s one thing that growing up being regarded as “smart” has taught me, it’s that a lot of supposedly smarter people just have better habits. Whether they just use mnemonics that were taught to them as a kid or just have a talent for breaking down patterns into easily remembered stubs, it doesn’t seem like that’s impossible to duplicate.
So, in an effort to remember some of the useful stuff that occurs to me and ends up leaking out the other side, I’ve started a journal. It will be my ever-present companion, should I indeed stick with this habit. If not, it’ll still be a learning experience. I fully expect to go through a time where I’m getting used to it and developing shorthand, figuring out ways to trigger memories, etc. I’ve been using it today and have had a lot of fun – forcing myself to stop and write things down makes me really think about stuff.
The plan so far is to write interesting/important/thoughtful things down. I will review them at the end of the day, review the previous three days in a “rolling window” to make sure the past few days have stuck, and then do a weekly blog post or something. I’m thinking every Sunday. Nothing huge, just something to get it all back in my brain.
I also plan on incorporating things like memorable phrases in this: if I write down one memorable phrase and repeat it a few times throughout the day, then the next few days, then the week, I have a feeling it’ll stick. My goal is one per day, so we’ll see how that goes.
My passion for this has been a long time coming, but it really came to a head the other day when I was at the gym. I kept on thinking about all the stuff I wanted to do and improve: sky diving, scuba diving, mental math, foreign languages. A lot of the activities I wanted to do involved heavy mental lifting. The underlying muscle for that is really my memory. I wouldn’t go mountain biking, run a 10K, or play tennis if I wasn’t physically fit. Why, then, not work on being mentally fit? This is, hopefully, the successful start of a long journey.