Friday, February 8, 2008

Wrestling with my Brain

I have been thinking about memory and the central role it plays in my life. I know that I remember things, but I also know that I forget things as well. The likely hood of forgetting something increases if I have not gone through the motion of writing it down. Sort of like you only need seatbelts when your not buckled in rule of driving.

I have learned that I need to write things down. But I have also learned that I can’t read my own hand writing half the time. So I compromise by writing things down on the computer. Witch is not always as handy as it sounds. Last January I purchased an ipod and I find the date book option in the ipod really useful. Of course I am dead set against owning a cell phone – witch I will go into in some other post.

David Allen in his book "Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress Free Productivity" says that most people have been in some version of mental stress for so long that they don’t eve know they are in it. He also says that the mind can only hold three things at the same time. After that you start loosing stuff. You can read more about David Allen on his website

I really identify with this concept – not only do I forget stuff like every one else. But because of all this stress from dyslexia early in life I have a whole mental recording about how messed up. Hopefully you don’t have all these emotional echoes from when you to forget your home work that you spent three works diligently working on so that you could hand in one assignment on time – come up when you drive to town to get the bread and bring home the cheese, yogurt, carrots, and the tub of ice cream, but not the milk.

At this point in my dialog or rant depending on who I am talking too and how long I have known them – I will be getting a puzzled look. My friend will say – but Eric I forget things too. Do you? Do you forget things three to five times a day? Do you live in fear of forgetting things? Do you tell people that you would like them to consider calling you if you don’t show up to the meeting just because you might have forgot? Are you always saying in meetings – hum do you have pen I forgot mine?

I can remember 28 hours of storytelling material on the drop of a pin and tell to a very high professional level.

But that is not the real kicker about my memory. Here is the thing if my memory is not so hot – Then what evidence do I use to convince myself that my memory needs watching?

Really I only have what I remember and man I can tell you that I am not really clear on all that –
1) I just don’t rememberr everything I have forgotten
2) I am a very optimistic person and given the choice between realism and a healthy dose of positive vibes – I’ll choose the positive feelings.
3) Denial is very important crutch to some one who has taken nine years of basic English equvalent and still can’t spell equivalent. I mean for crying out loud I am a certified card caring dyslexic individual writing a blog – What other credentials do you want that I have a high ability to deny reality effectively?
4) Emotionally admitting that my mind is not trust worthy is right on par with admitting that Masters of Science degree I worked so hard to get was given out by lottery and any day now they are going to come for me and as for it back. ( over my dead body)

Recently I had a friend of mine who I told about David Allen and his books.
I said that everybody is built the same way and that there are two kinds of people those that admit they need systems to stay organized and those that are pretending they can function with out any system of organization. He claimed in response that his wife was able to function with out any intentional organizational structure. She was just so organized and scientific in thought. I smiled politely and agreed.

But it turns out that this organized and wonderful woman (she is a very nice person) Forgot two separate massage visits with my wife's massage practice. Here is the key idea here – we all need systems of organization and if you are dyslexic you just need to admit that faster then everyone else.


Granny Sue said...

"I mean for crying out loud I am a certified card caring dyslexic individual writing a blog – What other credentials do you want that I have a high ability to deny reality effectively?"

I love this! I can only imagine what it must be like for you. My husband is dyslexic too and also has memory problems. and listening problems. He can listen to a story, no problem, but constantly asks me to repeat something I just said. I know it's not his hearing because we had that tested. I think it's more to do with dyslexia and how he processes what he hears.

You're honest, Eric, and you not a quitter. You see the problem, know you can't totally fix it, but nothing is stopping you from trying, and from doing the things you want to do. Makes the rest of us look like wimps.

BTW, I had a college professor, with a doctorate degree who was very highly regarded in his field--and couldn't spell a lick. I think he faced the same struggles you do. But like you, he didn't quit.

Karen Chace said...

Hi Eric,

I echo Granny Sue's comment, "I love this!" It is both comical and poignant.

My son's fiancee Stephanie is dyslexic as well, and therefore reads very slowly. She was terrified her first year of college when when she had to give many oral presentations. The first time the students were allowed to read off of their note cards. Now normally that would make students more secure but it sent her into a spin.

We had a long talk one night and I asked her to view what she thought of as a disability as an advantage. I told her that audiences need time to process the information both in story and in a presentations, which is somewhat like a story. Most presenters speak too fast but she would inherently speak slower because of her dyslexia. She was way ahead of the curve.

I then shared some stress realeasing activities I do with my student storytelling troupe and coached her on her presentation. She not only aced that first one but continued to be one of the best in the class.

Her perceived weakness became her greatest strength and it did so much for her self confidence.

Thank you for sharing your insights into the world of dyslexia. I will be sure to have her read your words.

And don't worry, spelling is my strong suit most days but don't ask me to do anything math realted above basic geometry. :)