I’m not good at remembering proper nouns: people’s names, places and events. But I am good at remembering all the other sentence structure that make for good conversation and storytelling.
When I am working on crossword puzzles, I can remember the most obscure adjectives, but ask me the name of a river in Asia, or a Broadway show title (even if I saw it) and I go blank. The more I try to recall it, the farther away it feels.
When I am writing my blog, I leave blank spaces in all the proper noun places, then I later do a Google search with clues like, “name of martial artist actor who died naked in his closet” and up pops David Carradine.
The one situation I have no solution for is introductions. I am pretty good at managing my nerves during stressful situations. You have heard about those people who get razor-like focus and calm under stress; the ones that run towards danger to help, rather than away. That is me. I’ve been tested time and time again. But the simple act of a friend to friend introduction can send me into a cold sweat.
Knowing my recall defect, I panic if I am out with a friend and see another longtime friend and think I may have to introduce them. This panic can cause my breath to shorten, thus blocking the much-needed oxygen to my brain for name association. I get “tunnel thinking.” I liken it to tunnel vision, only with thought processes.
Its infuriating! I wonder if hypnosis would help.
Because I have always been like this, I took a Dale Carnegie memory course in my 30’s. They tried teaching you little tricks like visualization, or name association, and even the trick of trying to think away from what you are trying to recall thus giving it room to come into your mind. I found that was the hardest exercise; but if you can master it, I believe the most useful.
There are so many intellectual things that have improved for me with age and experience, like wisdom, patience, and spirituality. Unfortunately, recall of proper nouns is not one. There is no denying the slowing of my synapses. That is just a fact. But that is not the only thing I am forgetting. Other fallen skills include handwriting and spelling. But I attribute that more to laziness because Microsoft Word is so efficient, and their spell check is so good.
Now, what was I talking about?