I am reading, for the second time, a book entitled “Moonwalking with Einstein” by Joshua Foer. A fascinating book on memory. The essence of the book is to divulge the secrets of mental athletes who can recall and quote hundreds of random words or more than a thousand numerical digits all in perfect sequence. Others are able to remember the sequence of each card in ten packs of shuffled playing cards – after 30 minutes of intense study. All this obviously begs the question as to the purpose and usefulness of these exercises. Maybe it is the prestige, sense of achievement or simply to be a finalist in the World Memory Championships.

While covering the details of these amazing feats, the book also makes some interesting observations on the memories of us more normal mortals who occasionally have difficulty remembering faces and places, telephone numbers and shopping lists. It is estimated that we spend up to 10% of our time looking for mislaid items or simply trying to recall information we had previously obtained. I am reminded of the saying that all seniors believe in the “hereafter” because they so often go to the fridge and say “What am I here after?”

Think about this. It is indicated that without time there would be no memories but also without memories there would be no time. Tragically there are those who cannot remember the events of yesterday and even those who cannot remember further back than the previous five minutes. For them each person is constantly greeted as a stranger. Even spouses are treated that way. Consequently, those unfortunate people are locked in the present. There is no past and there is no future. Neither can be comprehended.

As I read through the book I find it a reminder – excuse the pun – that memory is important and our memories are special.  The book highlights that we came into this world amnesiac and some of us will leave the same way.  Hence what happens in between is critical. You know the thinking that time goes by much more quickly as you get older, well this book offers a reason.  Because we remember time and dates by events and things which happen to us, it makes sense that as we get older events get less frequent and our days pass without too much difference. Thus the days run quickly into weeks and the weeks into months. We suddenly find ourselves in August and it seemed only yesterday we were ringing in the New Year.

So here’s the thing. No events – no memories! If nothing is happening then there is nothing to be remembered. So what’s the answer? Get out, get active, keep active, meet people, go places, do things and create some memories and in doing so we might even put the brakes on the days which are passing too fast.  Might be worth a try!