Memory Slips and Edits

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!

Keeping Order

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.

 

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Assume At Your Own Risk


Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z

Assumptions are everywhere. Like flies over roadkill. And they are sneaky. You don’t realize one is staring you in the face until something doesn’t work the way you expected. Something is out-of-place. But it’s not really. Your assumption, your assumed script, is wrong.
I think of the little old couple you see walking hand in hand in the park. We are quick to assume. He hands her an ice cream cone and we melt. Isn’t that sweet.  Until you learn the truth, that possibly they just met in person after online dating, you will see what you want to see. It’s like those pictures that shift. At first glance you see the face of the crone but take another look and you see a senorita dancing.

The first magazine article I ever sold was about something I had seen and had to do a double take. An older man walking his dog. A little black dog. I was driving to the library in the small town that I lived in and there on Main street, suddenly the dog ran up a tree. The man was still holding the handle of the leash and my mouth dropped open. I slowed down. Not a dog at all. It was a black cat. The man was walking his cat. Please remember, this is small town america, 15+ years ago. I had to tell someone. I was so flabbergasted when I went into the library, I hurried in to speak with the librarian who told me quite a story.

They say when you are piloting a ship, you must stick to your coordinates. If you are off just a pinch, you’ll miss your destination completely. Won’t even come close. Pilots of large aircraft don’t fly by whim. Charts, gauges, coordinates and lots of practice. They don’t assume.

First Ice Cream Cone

We know how easy it is to be influenced in our perceptions, although we’d like to believe that ours are not so easily swayed as the common person’s. Detectives say you can ask different people who saw the same crime or accident and get completely different stories. I can see how that would be possible. According to a podcast on Radiolab, our perceptions are malleable in the beginning. After retelling your version of the story a few times, then it becomes a more solid memory. So if you were at the scene of an accident and suddenly someone runs up to you and asks if you saw the red Camaro that drove off, the image of the red Camaro would be formed into your memory. So cleverly insinuated into the memory that you think it was something you saw with your own eyes. But you didn’t.  There never was a red Camaro.

Expectations and perceptions develop throughout our lives. Our family and teachers help form our view of life, along with events that happen in our childhood. What we expect, what we believe can happen, becomes ingrained. Somewhere back in my history I developed a fear of stop lights and crossroads. I’m not sure when, how, or why it developed, but I did see it in action one morning. While stopped at an intersection, on a busy street, I was waiting for the light to turn green. The lane to my right was a turning lane and it was empty. There were no cars behind me. I keep watch (training) while I’m sitting still. What am i watching for? Collisions. Impending doom. I feel it and I’m glancing in all my mirrors and watching to my left and my right. I’m not sure what I’d do because I’m stuck at that spot until the light turns. I glanced one more time in my rear view mirror and noticed a delivery truck coming up behind me, but he seemed to be slowing. I’m still watching all around me, so my eyes left him to check to the left. Then I heard the sound of a rushing vehicle. At that moment, I there was a collision of false perception and paranoid expectations. The sound of a rushing vehicle coupled with the truck behind me slammed my panic button and took my breath away. I just knew I was going to be rear ended and smashed into the car in front of me. But nothing happened. The panic turned into a question. What just happened? I looked behind me and there was the truck with plenty of space between us. The reality struck me. my aha moment. A car had sped into the right lane. A non-event that took my breath away. What am I? A trembly old woman? Seriously, I felt 10 degrees of silly.

Rear View Mirror

If you look at a situation, a freeze framed moment, without putting it in perspective you will most likely read it wrong. For example, if you have a person who owns a  broken down old house, what are your assumptions? It could be a person who is down on his luck. Job loss, medical bills, termites, basically can’t afford to pay for repairs. Or it could be someone who purchased the house to fix it up. Are they waiting for a loan to come through and then they will repair the roof and replace the broken windows? A snatch of a photo gives you such a brief glimpse. How would you know? Then again, you are still predicting the future with either one of those scenarios. The man who lost his job may find one again. It’s possible that even tomorrow he could receive a big bonus or help from a friend. The one waiting for the loan may get hit by litigation or they could have a string of bad luck. Ever see the movie Money Pit?

Assumptions and future forecasting is a precarious slope. You may end up being right and glow in the glory of your own wisdom. But then, you could be completely wrong. I still say God has a sense of humor. Sometimes it borders on the ridiculous.

Which is why I hate stereotyping and racial profiling. Also I’m blonde…and I’ve met just as many ditsy brunettes and redheads with IQ’s lower than mine. So assume at your own risk.

Irrational Fears and Faded Memories

English: reflection of a camera shot in christ...
English: reflection of a camera shot in christmas baubles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been wavering about pushing myself or not.  I do push a bit. Maybe a little more than I should. I want to get things done. I don’t want to put any of my shiny baubles (my projects) down. Like the monkey in the story of how to catch a monkey fame, I have my hands full. And I want it all.

But I’m uncertain. Afraid to push myself. Afraid of getting a migraine. Of wearing myself out. I really don’t know what I’m truly capable of. Not yet at least.

Cue theme song

For a long time I tried to psychoanalyze myself, to cure my pain. Somehow I believed that the migraines were either subconscious or even a conscious way of avoiding trying. As if I didn’t want to succeed and was sabotaging my own efforts. With that theory, my mind reverts to a familiar memory. It’s like a theme song in the back of my life.

When I was in junior high, I was the first in line for our fitness test.  This was my first year in junior high and my first year to do any type of fitness testing. I was fairly athletic but tiny. We did our 1 mile jog around the gym. There was the jumps, long and short. A pegboard climb and the chin up. We lined up in alphabetical order. My last name started with a B in those days used to going first, so this was no big deal. The chin up bar was in front of me. It glared I’m sure. Taunting. The chin up was easy. Hanging not so bad. Continuing to hang for an extended length of time was boring. I felt awkward. People were staring, waiting, and eager to get to their turn. Impatient. And I felt the eyes of everyone on me. So I dropped.

Seth Godin mentions something about favorite memories in a recent blog. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/01/a-legend-in-my-own-mind.html 

“Everyone lives with self mythology. The more important a memory is to the story we tell ourselves about ourselves, the more often we rehearse the memory. And the more often we relive those memories, the less likely it is that they are true.”

This made we wonder about my vivid memory. How true is my belief and interpretation? I’m not trying. I give up. Am I really not trying? Is it because of fear or is there another reason? So I dig a bit deeper.

What if I stumble? What if I fall?

What if I try my very hardest and it’s not enough? What if I found the man of my dreams and I screw it up? I know this is a stupid question. I know it’s an irrational fear. I recognize it for what it is, but I also know that it’s there jeering at me. I hear the whispers it breathes. Yep, but I know it’s a lie. It’s a fictional story made up by the drama team to make a story more..DRAMATIC! It gives the story some punch. It’s like the music in the background of a scary show. It isn’t the truth, but it does color the truth brighter. How do I know this? Because no one succeeds the first time they step out in new territory. Not Lewis and Clark, not Abraham Lincoln, not Hillary Clinton, and not you and me. The first time is for measurement only. There is no line drawn in the sand when you begin. You can’t do better because you’ve never tried before.

Red Chihuahua poses for a photo, white chest f...
Red Chihuahua poses for a photo, white chest flash, male, with a pink wall, in La Purisima / San Isidro, West Coastal, Baja California Sur, Mexico (Photo credit: Wonderlane)

Going back to the memory that I replay over and over. When I believed the story I told myself (I don’t try hard enough), I felt I should have tried to hold the chin up a lot longer. I could have beaten all of their times, maybe. But I had no standard of how long I could hold it. No idea if I could do 10 minutes or 5. How could I? I had never timed myself. I was still a kid and didn’t have experience to know what is in me or what I should expect of me. That’s what the teenage years do for us. They help us see where our strengths and weaknesses are. And then we can work through them. Up until that time, you have no expectations of yourself. Or at least very few.

Thinking thinking always thinking

I realize that I think too much. I read too much into a symptom or an illness. Migraines just are. People get sick. We live and we die. It’s really all pretty simple. Until it gets complicated. And only we can complicate it. We put in our fears and expectations when life is really just about living and dying. In between we put in all the Shoulds and Musts until we have our own list of complicated Ten Commandments. Mine at times is like reading Leviticus in the Bible, The King James Version.

You are here X

So the first step I take doesn’t count. And if it counts, it only counts as a  measuring point. Each effort after that is to hone the process. Only after having a  starting point can you have any idea of where you are.

Third Eye Blind – Jumper

Here is a funny scene from Yes Man – Jumper Scene singing Jumper