Our mind does a funny thing to us. It slips. It edits. If there’s an association you’re missing it will fill it in for you. It has its own filing system. You would think that we would file things in an ordinary way, maybe alphanumeric or some easy way to retrieve this information that seems important, like the name of street you drive down hundreds of times. I was trying to remember the a street name recently. It actually wasn’t one I drive, but it was one block over from my usual street. I could picture it because I was wanting to tell someone the story about the gorgeous girl I saw being photographed downtown in front of the blue door. She was tall, the girl, not the door.
Street names Sheridan vs Cincinnati
The only named street that kept coming to mind was Sheridan and I knew the name was wrong and I’m banging my head trying to think of the right name, doing word associations, knowing my memory has played a trick on me. It’s the one block over trick. Sheridan is one block over from the street where I live. My mind thought it was a good substitute I guess. I wasn’t getting anywhere so I gave up and waited until I could get home and look it up because Google would not fail me!
By now most of us realize our memories aren’t card cataloged and ordered by color coding. My memory reminds me more of a game of charades with hand gestures than any type of organizational system. I got home and looked up the name of the street, Cincinnati. Well Duh. One street over from Detroit. Now I wonder if the door was really blue.
If you feel like geeking out, Steven Kotler sent this out in his email list this week, The Real Neuroscience of Creativity. It’s not about memory storage, but it has some interesting info regarding creativity and how we use our brain.