It slipped away
out from under the thought I had thought I had noted as important
it slipped away
despite my very clear indication that day
that it was a priority
it slipped away
even though I told myself I would pay more attention
never forget again
She slipped away
he slipped away
they slipped away
So easy to forget
the problem is remembering
*The problem is remembering. I had this thought, just four words, before I went to sleep and my tired little brain went “aha!” And then, yesterday was done.
When I woke this morning, luckily it was the first thing I recalled, a rarity. I often forget the things that make sense in the gap between living and the nightly death. Sometimes I wake up not even knowing what day it is, an indication of a good sleep and a decent brain flush.
But back to the problem with remembering. I’m a curious cat with a penchant for chasing after interesting things. I read many many books and nearly every one leaves me changed – for a moment.
I guess the information adds up, but does it?
So often I decide I shall do this one very important thing and then I don’t keep up with it. Some, I can see why, cold showers although of great benefit health wise are something that I just don’t feel like facing every morning. And I know I should overcome that feeling and do it anyway. But the thing is, as humans, we are driven towards comfortable things and so my wiring defeats me after awhile if the long term benefits don’t seem to outweigh the temporary discomfort.
I can stick with things that are uncomfortable if I can see that I am definitely getting something out of it. I have stuck with intermittent fasting for over 6 months and it has turned into a lifestyle that I sincerely enjoy. The benefits far outweigh the short term internal grumbling that I have some days.
I stick with my morning routines even though I don’t “feel” like getting hauled along behind the dogs sometimes. My yoga mat is rolled out in the predawn. I stretch my way awake, in every cell, even when some of those cells would prefer more sleep. I journal, I write or work on edits in my novels – I’m back to blogging. Mostly the benefits received far outweigh the temporary lack of enthusiasm I may have and I have never said “I wish I hadn’t done that” when I get home from a walk or finish a chapter or hit post.
These are just a couple of things which I have continued to the point where they have become mostly daily habits that I don’t really think about.
There are so many things that I haven’t stuck to though. These small failures would fill a slim novel, but they aren’t all that interesting, or beneficial, or I would have stuck to them. At least that is what I tell myself.
Further to that. We largely operate on auto pilot. There is so much information going into our system every day, that our brain filters things automatically according to feelings and interest. First of all comes self preservation so that if a car approaches whilst we are distracted by something else, our brain will do its best to jerk our awareness into the present moment thereby avoiding a calamity. But as for the rest, the book we have just finished, the movie we completed, the documents that we have read through and replied to, the recipe that we have cooked, the article in the newspaper…
Over and done with and gone.
Perhaps we will recall a salient fact or two – perhaps even a little more but unless you have hyperthymesia or an Eidetic (photographic) memory, you are going to forget a large percentage of what you just learnt. Because we simply can’t fit it all in the filing cabinet and so our brain chooses what to keep, and what to discard.
The trick then, one would think, is to take control of this brain and tell it what you actually want it to remember and what it can safely discard. That’s what I am working on at the moment. But I’m not trusting my brain – it’s surface is very slippery and a lifetime of reading and forgetting have given it a few bad habits.
Derek Rivers writes notes on every book that he reads. You can find his notes and books on his website here.
I’m going to try that too. (I have said this before mind you) I read so many great books and although I do retain the gist of them and absorb parts of the wisdom into my life, I would love to have a summary of exactly what I found useful to read back on later as a refresher. Reading someone else’s notes doesn’t really work for this. We are all unique, and readers absorb information differently according to what they need or where they are at in their lives. I know that I receive books in a new way, if I read them a few years after the original time I read them. Some great books will repay us with fresh information every single year – and it is beneficial to read them often.
I’m also going to try to do a budget each month in reverse. Spending is different to purchasing – one just goes out and out while the other actually adds valuable items to our life. It’s handy to know which I am doing and why. Money is a sensitive topic for some people. They don’t really like to look too closely at what they are spending so they just have a vague idea that they “should” do some things differently. If you are like me, and I used to be a bit vague about outgoings (whilst keeping a very good balance sheet in my gut) then there is nothing like sitting down and with your credit card statement and drawings account and seeing exactly where you spent the money. And don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t clamp down – your subconscious will just rebel anyway. Just continue to watch yourself. As I said in an earlier post this week, any intelligent person won’t watch themselves do stupid things for very long – it becomes quite unbearable. So, just watch yourself and ask why and where your money is going.
Show me the evidence and I will automatically change my ways. Declare an ultimatum and my subconscious will rebel. Sigh. Working on ourselves is difficult but at least we are dealing with devil we know – eventually.
And I am ringing my aunts more regularly. People, even more than habits slip away to the sidelines of our busy lives. Some people probably should remain there, but special folk, beloved members of the extended family should be remembered more often, and remembered with a follow up phone call or visit where possible. And if it is on a schedule, it is remembered.
Instigating the habits we want can override the tendency to be slack in the moment. Putting priorities on a set and forget mode that is similar to auto pilot but a little more planned is helpful. But it isn’t the key to everything. We have to tell our brains what we find important and because we are feeling beasts that run primarily on emotions – we have to show our brain what we find important – that means recalling these integral things for ourselves.
Because we don’t even know what we find important sometimes. Which is where self knowledge is so valuable.
This occurs on both a personal and global scale. We forget the horrors of war, probably because we don’t personally experience them. Someone who did, will never forget. Yet we become involved with our own private obsessions and don’t appreciate and value how lucky we are, every day to wake up in a country that is peaceful. That “forgetting” has implications on a global scale. We stand on the precipice of world war once again. Some countries already wake up every day to the terror and horror of war. My husband and I tend to watch a fair bit of the history channel – because of that I am regularly reminded not only of how amazingly far we have come as a species, how extraordinarily innovative, but also, how terribly destructive and short term thinking we are.
Just look at the environmental damage that has been wreaked on the planet in the last century – it wasn’t other people who caused that, it was everyone consuming blindly on a personal level which combined to take a toll on an entire planet.
A tendency to be forgetful, also has the sad consequence of leading to a lack of gratitude and awareness of the grace which surrounds us individually and collectively, at all times. I was reading a post by a fellow blogger “Granny”. She has had a difficult week with her father and brother both requiring emergency hospitalisation. What I enjoyed about one of her posts in particular was that in the midst of an awful lot of things going wrong and frustrating people – she also took the time to notice some truly lovely humans around her who were being helpful and be grateful for it.
I am fortunate to be healthy. Today. Many are not. I am fortunate for so many things that when I begin to count them, it is almost overwhelming. And the things which are our blessings – these precious gifts which we often forget; are probably our greatest loss in the way that our brain filters things.
Which can be changed of course, if we make it a priority to list our blessings regularly.
Whoosh! This got long.
Basically a little prioritising and listing going on aside from the blog today. Some of it may well go out the window by tomorrow, but today I am having a meeting with my grey matter in an attempt to try and adjust some of the auto filtering currently at play in my days.
What’s your priority? What’s dropping through the cracks? Knowledge, people, bad habits, good habits, goals, plans, blessings, whatever it is – it’s a human thing, a brain filtering thing. And it can be adjusted.
Have a great day!
Try and remember more of it tomorrow.
Header photo courtesy of Ellie Pourezza Unsplash.