Working with minds, friends called it teaching, was my career choice for thirty-eight years. Believe me, I was never bored.
The mind is a fascinating storage cabinet, but there comes a time when it reaches capacity. Then it is that you either clean it out to make room for new thoughts or you get another cabinet. My theory is that in this particular case, buying another mind is not a practical solution. You must empty it.
You are going to ask me why and how aren’t you? Well, my research on this matter is not as extensive as you may like, but it works for me. Actually, all I did was take a survey of three of my friends. I talked to them in the parking lot after exercise class one night last week. We all agreed.
Not emptying our mental cabinets is why so many of us are beginning to forget things. The older we get the more information we have stored. The more information we have stored, the more jammed our mental files.
I wonder. Do I really need to remember the year I graduated from grade school? Or do I need my former neighbor’s phone number on the tip of my tongue? And how may calls have I had for that recipe for bananas flambé that sickened six of my friends the night I served it at a dinner party? I’m serious. I am going to clean out my cabinet.
There are many old words I hardly use anymore that are simply taking up space in my memory bank, like “due date,” “gee whiz,” “The Mommas and the Poppas,” and “size 12.”
Nowadays I need space for remembering which car I drove to Walmart this morning, the name of a man I have been introduced to ten times it seems in the past few months, and my new son-in-law’s birthday. Must I go on, day after day, driving away from the house asking myself, “Did I close the garage door?” and getting no response?
Removing debris from mental files should be as easy as cleaning out the basement. Just make three piles: one for “throw-away”, one for items too good to discard yet good enough to pass on to the kids, and the last pile of “keepers”.
Pitching is easy. For example, for years I made bread and butter pickles. Who does that now? I no longer need to remember how to footnote a thesis either. I finished my last degree twenty plus years ago.
I would like to transfer to my friends’ minds the names of European cities we’ve visited together. It is time they stop referring to me and store them in their own minds. I would enjoy being able to say to my children, “I don’t know when or even if you had the measles. I erased those facts.”
What do I keep? I want to remember how many times I drove my kids to sports practices. I get lots of mileage out of that. I want to remember the look on my colleagues’ faces when at lunch time, in the teachers’ lounge, I’d announce, “Cover your ears. I’m going to scream now!” That makes me laugh. Also I want to keep every single Christmas memory my family has given me . . . even if I have to toss out my birth date to make room for it.