I recently read about techniques to help sharpen our memory. The basic message is to exercise our mind, especially our memory. What follows is a combination of ideas from brain doctors and some of my own techniques.
Don’t use your GPS. Use your memory and visual cues to get where you want to go. Be sure you have a full tank of gas before you leave home, and leave an hour or so early.
Don’t rely on your shopping list when you shop for groceries. Put it in your pocket and rely on your memory of what you need. What this probably means is that you walk down every aisle in the store, impulsively grabbing what strikes your fancy. An added benefit is that you will walk a pretty good distance without the targeting that a shopping list creates, so it provides good exercise. (Keep in mind here that when I run a grocery errand, if there are more than two items, I need a list.)
When putting away groceries, dishes or kitchen equipment, put them in a different place every time. That way, you get to exercise your memory as you try to find them. Sound like fun? An added benefit is that you might learn some new vocabulary words when your spouse is looking for what you put away.
Put your car keys away in a different place every time you come home. That way, you get to exercise your memory each time you try to find them. Just in case, you might want to keep a spare on a hook near the back door.
List the names of your ten best friends, starting with the oldest. This should make you feel better, unless you can’t come up with ten.
Change a few of your computer passwords – and don’t write them down. Ever do that accidentally?
Several times a day, walk into another room and try to remember why you did it.
Each night at dinner, try to remember what you had for breakfast. I have learned this is especially important when Kim had made me a special breakfast. I remember yesterday’s, but at the moment I can’t remember the name of the vegetable she spread on toast with tomato and a hard-boiled egg on top. Ahhh . . . avocado!
I had some other techniques, but . . ..
And here’s a poem that I may have posted on my blog before. Maybe not. It’s by Billy Collins, though I had trouble remembering his name until I looked through my library and found his books.
The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,
as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.
Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,
something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.
Whatever it is you are struggling to remember
is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.
It has floated away down some dark mythological river
whose name begins with L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.
No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem you used to know by heart.