One day recently our five-year-old grandson counted to ten for us…in Spanish. I was so impressed! So, I asked him how he learned to count in Spanish. He said his daddy taught him and he “rememorized” it. Say what? I have a new favorite word. Rememorize.When I was in the fifth grade my friends and I used to pass notes to one another. A lot. We would discreetly jot down whatever important message we needed to communicate to one another, fold the paper into a tiny lump of white, and pass it to the necessary recipient. The teacher caught us doing this. A lot. And she didn’t like it. A lot. I’m pretty sure I missed a recess or two for passing notes in class. Then one of my friends had the brilliant idea to learn the alphabet in sign language. So, we did. There were six or eight of us who became quite proficient in signing our messages, one letter at a time. And even though that was roughly 45 years ago, I can still sign the alphabet. I know now that I have it rememorized.
When my oldest son was in grade school, I decided that this middle child wasn’t getting enough individual attention from me so I arranged an outing just for the two of us. We went to a nearby lake and rented a paddle boat. I bought two Pepsi’s and we paddled out onto the lake. Despite the fact that we seldom spent time alone like this, and I never allowed the kids to drink soda, I remember he seemed unimpressed. Thinking I could create a memory he would never forget, I took a couple hard pulls on my Pepsi and then intentionally let out a big, noisy belch. I think he giggled. But years later when I asked him about this moment in time, he could vaguely remember our adventure in the paddle boat, and my ghastly burp did not register at all. I never burped out loud. Still don’t. How could he not remember that?
I guess what our brain allows into our subconscious in the form of a memory is not always our choice. We can talk about “making memories” but what we’re really doing is creating experiences that, in the long run, either stick with us or dissipate into the fog of gray matter. But “rememorizing” is altogether different. Rememorizing is based on intention and repetition. I might remember the experience of using sign language in the fifth grade, but I had to memorize the hand gestures that created the alphabet.
Recently my husband and I heard a cardinal calling in our yard. It’s a beautiful sound and we both paused to listen. He said the song of a cardinal always reminds him of a specific moment at least 20 years ago. It was a spring day in Iowa and he was at work with the doors and windows open, allowing the fresh breeze to eliminate some of the stale, winter air. He can recall the people who were standing with him as they stepped outside to get closer to the birdsong. He can tell you what tree the bird was perched in. My husband has memorized the aria of a cardinal, and because of it, he remembers an early spring day many years past.
As time goes by, our subconscious fills with snapshots of life. Some memories we intentionally try to fit into the space. We take in a spectacular sunset and promise to never forget the colors. Or maybe we hear kind words from a stranger and vow to hold them forever in the lockbox of our mind. We promise to never allow the image of a loved one to fade after they’re gone. We pledge to remember the combination for the garage door and the password for our internet. What sticks and what drifts? Do we get to decide or do we have an inner editor making the determination of what’s important to recall and what’s best left stuffed undisturbed in the corner of our cerebral cortex?
I tend to believe in the inner editor, and the choices it makes are not always in my best interest. Why do I have to re-live the words I said in 1982, to my friend who had just lost her grandmother? I stumbled over saying the right thing and something ridiculous spilled out. Why instead wouldn’t the gatekeeper of my memories pull forth some inspirational words of wisdom that I projected to a loved one in need?
Going forward, I might try a little rememorizing. I’ll use intention and repetition to sway my inner editor. With mindful intent I can give positive thoughts and pleasant images greater attention. And by repeating this behavior and practicing it regularly, I’m more likely to demonstrate positivity and pleasantness. It’s as easy as learning to count to ten in Spanish. All it takes is a little rememorizing.
Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.