Thoughts on Memory, Before I Forget"

2 May 1999


Although it probably does not matter to anyone, other than me, I feel compelled to write this piece on memory and what I have learned about it.

First of all, I believe that a major reason I was able to succeed in business and in life, as well as I have,  is that I have always had a very good memory.  I read somewhere that having a good memory may be more important than raw intelligence and in my case, I know this to be true.  However, lately, as I approach 53 years of age, I find that my memory is not what it used to be and now I have to struggle to remember what used to be “on the top of my head”. 

And so, some worry has begun to creep in.  Am I losing my memory completely?  At the current, perceived,  rate of loss, in a couple of years, will I remember my own name? 

Certainly it is all related to a fear of aging and losing what abilities one once took for granted but lately, thinking about my memory loss, I have concluded that most, if not all the loss I am experiencing ,is due to the way I live my life and handle my affairs rather than to some physiological reason.

And so, today, before I forget, I want to document the six (6) reasons, I think, my memory is not what it used to be.

The first reason my memory is not as good as it used to be is that I very seldom think about the past.   That is, memories are not getting “refreshed” regularly as I do not spend time reliving past events, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant. 

Sometimes I wish I did spend more time thinking about the past but have always thought that it much more important to concentrate on the here and now and because of my family and the need to plan ahead, the future.

So, my point here is that forward looking folks will suffer from poor memories of  the great storm of one year or another or the cross word spoken to a son or daughter when they were 10.

The second reason my memory is not so good any more is that I tend to always tell the truth.

Now I can not say that I always tell the truth as this is not true, but certainly 90 to 95 percent of the time, I do tell the truth and thus have no reason to remember what I said to others in fear that I will get caught in a lie later.  That is, truthful people will have poorer memories than liars.

The third reason my memory is not what it used to be is that when I start a task or have something to do, I  tend to complete the task in all its parts rather than only complete half the task and then have to remember the part left to complete.  For example, when the mail comes each day, I actually write checks for the bills and stamp and seal the bill payment envelop and deposit it in the mailbox  thus completing the task and allowing me to “forget” the bill completely.

The fourth reason my memory is slipping is that I tend to use memory aids such as the computer, a calendar and pads of paper.  I create lists, place birth dates on the calendar and use the computer to schedule various financial obligations.  Thus, what I used to have to keep in memory is now in some other form of memory, outside myself.

The fifth reason my memory is not as sharp as it used to be is that I am organized.  Over time I have created filing system and storage systems to hold important paper and facts and thus all I need to remember now is that “all” is somewhere in one of my many file cabinets.

The sixth and final reason my memory is not as sharp as perhaps it should be or could be is that after having lived a goodly number of years, nothing really surprises me anymore and thus I seldom get into a emotionally charged state, absolutely is the best energy source for the creation of memories.

And so, although I feel that perhaps age has diminished my memory some, I think that it is things I do which count more towards my loss of memory.

I wonder then, if these reasons are valid for all aging humans?  I wonder then, if others should not be told that it is ok they can not remember the name of some childhood pet or the value of PI or that the car needs gasoline before the big trip?

Just thoughts.  Nothing more.


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