Photo by Serg Antonov on Unsplash

FLASH Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 26

Memory is such a funny thing. It is vastly more subjective that I thought it was in my twenties. It is not a file cabinet full of intact, coherent, cohesive facts that are strung together in any sort of narrative, yielding a ‘truth.’ Far from it. Memory is incredibly subjective, fluid, ephemeral, and fleeting. It is also incredibly precious.

At 59, I’m starting to see some rather troubling issues with my memory. This wasn’t supposed to happen at this age. Maybe later, but not before I even turned 60 (which is another thing I’m not thrilled about). I’m resolved to doing better by my memory. Losing my faculty of memory or even just degraded performance is where I draw the line in ‘behaviors I will accept’ sand.

I see how people cure themselves of serious diseases with the power of the will and their positivity. I think I can do the same with my memory. By a committed approach, that has three prongs.

  1. Non-acceptance

2. Exercises & Drills

3. Acceptance

The first prong is non acceptance. I will not go gently into the good night of diminished memory performance. This is the foundation of my entire strategy. This is my commitment. This is what will energize me and propel me through the struggle.

The second key point is making the commitment to daily ‘exercises’ for the muscle or faculty of memory. I will commit to remembering as many longer poems as I can. I’ve always loved The Raven. It will do for starters. The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock is a must as well. Ash Wednesday, also by Eliot. I could see spending up to 30 minutes a day with these type exercises. I could easily do them while I’m walking. Two birds, one stone. Puzzles, games, playing with my Rubik’s cube – whose solution depends upon memorizing long sequences of actions.

The third and final prong in my ‘Save-my-memory’ project is the antithesis of the first. Not accepting the natural decline in memory and cognition is the foundation, but some diminishment is inevitable. Also, there’s no sense in suffering with a program that is only based upon non-acceptance. Earlier this evening, I was searching for my comb. I looked and looked for it. I then remembered it had been in some shorts that I was wearing yesterday. So I switched my search target to be the shorts I’d worn yesterday. I went through my entire room before noticing that I was wearing the very shorts I was looking for. This was a little funny to me. But I can go full on OCD with trying to find lost items. Silly things like pens or, as in today, a comb! Ridiculous! Why suffer over such trivial, easily replaced items.

I think the tension between the first and last prongs is easily solved by adopting an inclusive, committed, but flexible set of expectations for how well I will do with this undertaking. The non-acceptance will be the motor driving me through the program, keeping me on the poems until I’ve memorized them. The acceptance will allow me to detach from getting so sideways over the loss of a comb. This is also a key thing meditation brings me, and I will renew my commitment to it as well.

The drills and exercises are a pretty obvious tool in combating an aging memory, but the other two points that bookend it are certainly of value as well.

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