I always suspected it, now I hear there’s a study that damn near proves it: my brain is working against me.
As you dash outdoors in the middle of winter, you might make it halfway down the block before realizing that your ears are freezing because you forgot your hat.
Now, scientists have shown that even though you’ve had an apparent memory lapse, your brain never forgot what you should have done.
Memory works mainly by association. For example, as you try to remember where you left your keys, you might recall you last had them in the living room, which reminds you that there was a commercial for soap on television, which reminds you that you need soap, and so on. And then, as you’re heading out the door to buy soap, you remember that your keys are on the kitchen counter.
Your brain knew where the keys were all along, it just took a round-about way to get there.
Well, shit. Brain, you’re busted. But I’ve suspected that all along.
Maybe it’s related to my ADD, but memory has always been a problem for me, for as long as I can remember, all the way up to the present. I still have to turn around every other morning and go back into the house because I think I turned off the stove after making breakfast, but I’m not sure I turned it off. I can see myself turning it off, but experience has taught me not to trust my memory.
There are some benefits to this, however. If you tell me a secret, it’s probably safe with me. I don’t know that I’m particularly trustworthy. It’s just the way my brain works, or doesn’t. If you tell me something, and tell me not to tell anyone, I can’t tell anyone because I’ll forget what you told me in the first place. So when you come back later and ask “You didn’t tell anyone what I told you, did you?” I’ll look at you kinda funny and say I don’t even remember what you told me, so I couldn’t tell anyone if I wanted to. Your secret really is safe with me, because I’ll forget what the secret even is.
For years I’ve told co-workers to email me if they have a task they need me to do. Standing in my doorway and telling me is insufficient, because in a couple of days — or five minutes, literally — when you pop back in to ask how that project is coming, I’m going to look at you like you have green horns growing from your forehead. What you won’t know is that you’re getting my “oh shit” look while I try desperately to guess what the hell you’re talking about. That’s where the email comes in. It’s not going to help me remember. It’s just a reference so that I can look up what the hell you’re talking about and figure out what I’m supposed to do.
I’ve often joked that my brain, like an outdated mainframe computer, only has so much space to store memory, and as a result has to “erase some tapes” on a regular basis. So, if I don’t remember something, it’s because “those tapes have been erased.”
Now I find out the tapes do exist. It’s just that my brain is holding out on me.