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.
I bumped into a silly belief that I didn’t realize I had. It goes like this, “If it doesn’t last, it isn’t valid.” It isn’t real. Now the funny thing that I’ve noticed about these ninja, super hidden beliefs is that if you look at them in the light of day without distractions, they are ridiculous. Obviously nothing lasts. The supper I made tonight, as good as it was and as filling as it was, processed through my body, pulling out the nutrients needed and the rest discarded. And hopefully, not storing too much excess as fat.
The paycheck I received from working my 40 hours each week is processed through my life, used as needed and then is gone. It doesn’t last. Was it valid? Yes! Valid and wanted. So when that thought came in, I was sitting and talking to a friend. We were talking about relationships and those that have come and gone. Apparently there was a fleeting moment that I was feeling like a failure at relationships. I quickly tallied up my pluses and minuses and my brain handled the rest. It called in the ninja belief to protect me from my evaluation. The minuses, my so-called failures, became invalid. I guess they weren’t authentic. They didn’t last, right? If they didn’t last, they weren’t very strong in the first place. They must have been only superficial, pretty side shows that only appeared as strong relationships. Or so my thinking went. That’s it! My clever self had given me my out. The failed relationships were all just shams! Propped up to look like the real thing.
It seemed so simple. About as quickly as the super secret ninja thoughts went through the exit, the wise Yoda-like came in the entrance. Hmmm..maybe. He rubs his chin. Could be true. Something else might be. Momentary, fleeting, brief, and elusive. maybe not sham at all.
Fleeting moments like the sight of your son on graduation day. Or the moment you held him in your arms for the first time. Brief like the fear before you dive into the swimming pool. Or the elation you felt from actually seeing it through. Elusive moments, like the wisps of cologne from your lover’s shirt. The moment of passion that takes your breath away. And the memory of it an hour later. Elusive like the site of a ray of sun through the clouds. The rainbow that follows. Yes. Fleeting, elusive, brief moments. Anyone have a tissue?
tweet-able- Brief, fleeting relationships are just as real and necessary as lasting ones.
Brief moments and so-called failed relationships are just as valid and real as the longer lasting type. The day with the sun beating down on your back in the August heat is no more real than the short glimpse through the clouds. They both exist. Did the sun fail on the rainy day in April? Of course not. It didn’t take long for me to realize the belief was stupid. But what did take me a day to process was the reason for the incredibly silly thought in the first place. Rather than think of myself as a total failure, making me depressed and gloomy, my mind was helping me. By telling me it wasn’t real, it was a sham, my mind was allowing my to protect myself.
After each failed relationship, I boxed away my feelings of joy, my memories that made me smile and all the beautifully wicked first kisses and experiences. I stored them away on a shelf and they were gathering dust. I didn’t know what to do with the old wedding photos. Isn’t it wrong to look at them and smile? Those days are gone and forgotten. Shouldn’t they be put in the dumpster with the relationships? I failed. I gave up. I couldn’t finish my race. I quit. And that is why my mind was protecting me. It hurts. It cuts deep inside where no one but you can see like bits of glass or shrapnel left inside the tissue. Every time I see a happy couple, every time I’m lonely, every moment that I see my children, I’ve felt the failure.
Seeing the pretend, propped up, temporary relationship was clever. And maybe my mind was even sneakier than that. By allowing me to see the “failures” as shams, it gave me the ability to laugh at its joke. I knew that I couldn’t dismiss temporary things so easily. The shams are real. The moments of good in them were just as real as the moments of good that I haven’t boxed away. Maybe I packed them away in boxes of splinters, but I still have them. And up until that moment I hadn’t realized I’d boxed them away.
I wonder. Is the human psyche really that clever? It’s a delicate pirouette to do. The dance it took around my dusty storage room and then gently prodding me, it did brilliantly. Almost as if it had super ninja skills.
I have 2 videos here. First Linkin Park – Bleed It Out, then Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love. Pick your poison.
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