So, I was very inspired by reading Lynne Kelly’s “Memory Craft”. It got me thinking: what must it be like to keep an encyclopedia’s worth of information inside your head? What kind of connections can a well-filled memory make? What am I missing out on?
The head is especially empty, alas, due to some mental trauma and depression I’d experienced immediately postpartum. I was severely sleep deprived for two years, and my brain does not feel the same anymore. The depression also led me to a phone addiction, which fried my attention circuitry and my focus.
I used to be able to do mental math relatively quickly (I used to tutor kids in math and would always impress them with being able to do arithmetic faster in my head than they could on their calculators). I can’t anymore. I used to be able to memorize poetry easily. Not anymore. I used to be able to read a book without losing concentration. I can’t anymore.
I turn 45 next week. My mid-life crisis is going to be to un-stupid myself.
Here’s the un-stupiding regimen I’m experimenting with:
- Dual N-back exercises for the attention span and focus issue
- Mental math practice as additional attention/focus rehab
- Memorizing a poem a week, using the loci method to help with that
- Working on a History Journey
- Putting together a Dominic system for numbers for future use in memorizing useful things (bank account numbers, passwords, stuff like that)
As I get further in, I also want to memorize some classic books. I’m currently trying out an alphabet peg method for memorizing a book (Lynne Kelly’s Memory Craft), which is working quite well in at least getting the ideas into my head (I’m not memorizing it verbatim). Once I get better at it, I’d like to get into memorizing the classics, either with the same peg method or with the method of loci.
I started the Dual N-Back experiment a month ago, and I’m very happy with the way that’s worked out for me, so that’s definitely staying as part of the routine. The mental math, I started a couple of days ago, and I’m still pitifully slow and it’s embarrassing. I’ve memorized one poem so far and getting into the second one. For some reason, the loci for memorizing poetry appear to be in my old apartment that I lived in before moving to my current house.
The book-memorizing project is going very well. I’m using a simple visual alphabet with different animals and characters as pegs. I’ve got no visualization abilities (I have aphantasia), but I find that it doesn’t prevent me from remembering ridiculous things.
To get a bit more practice with the loci method, I’ve been using it for to-do lists and grocery lists. It works amazingly well and I no longer use my shopping list app.
Pondering where to put my History Journey. I want it to be a route I know well, and unfortunately, I just moved to a new place, so I don’t know my new neighborhood all that well yet, and I don’t really have the time to walk around and explore all that much. The only route I know well here is a driving route, not a walking one (though I could walk it, and sometimes do).