As we get older our memory comes apart. One memory sticks to another, but the glue is old and fragile and sometimes breaks. It's just gone. Something is there, but it's not together as it should be. It's a jumble.
Mike Sterling of Southampton has one of those kinds of brilliant minds that thinks electronically, almost like a computer. I have written before about the new mind-boggling musical instrument that he is inventing.
On the subject of memory, he has this to say: "As we think, as we recall, memories come out like incomplete strands that are pulled from a box of Kleenex. One should pull on the next. They should cascade out without a pause. We should not have to dig deeper in our memory."
We like to think that as we pack in new memories, we've just made room by getting rid of useless bits and pieces, but that's not true. Those bits are, after all, who we are. We need them.
Here's how it goes with Mike, at least ....He thinks of things from the past. These are not words, but images. Row upon row upon row of images.
Recently a vision of a former mayor of Detroit, who participated in the decline of the city, came into focus for him. "Why think of him? Who knows? He's hanging there like an incomplete strand. The glue must be dried up," he adds.
"I see him clearly. His face and his voice come back quickly. I think of his energetic predecessor. I see him too. But, what are their names? I should know them. I must know them!
"No need to panic, I'll remember and I do in a few minutes. Meanwhile I remember the Mayor's WWII record as a flyer. I remember the other mayor with his children going to church on Sunday. These all come from moving around inside my own server space. Without my private Google, I'm lost," Mike emphasizes.
"All of a sudden the name Coleman is pulled out from someplace and then Young. Yes, 'Coleman Young'. That's the guy. A man with much promise but no friend of goodness. He controlled and participated in the cities decline by controlling the church goers not the bad guys. Bad guys don't vote after all."
Eventually Mike was able to "pull out" the other name but expresses some annoyance that he did not do it faster.
I never thought of it this way before but that is more or less the unconscious process that I go through when I click on my mental recall for information tucked away in the recesses of my mind.
So how can old guys like Mike and I use our memory to better advantage and do it consistently? Ah, our mutual friend Google helps. Even without the real Google though, we can and should do a bit of digging ourselves. "Search like Google does" should be our routine rule of thumb.
Sometimes we don't need Google at all. The pesky past just needs a strong tug. A mind that thinks like Mike Sterling's helps too.
MB: Just an after-thought to the above...It's remembering what we did yesterday and what we have to do today that we really have to work on. Certainly for me anyway...And Google can't help with that.