Standing Still


“Retrace your steps.”
“Don’t think about it and it will come back to you.”

I used to follow this advice, when I was in my 30’s and I would suffer a momentary memory lapse. But things have changed for me, as those lapses tend to last more than a moment, as time compresses my memory to a mere shadow of its former self. The regularity with which I enter a room only to forget why I’m there still surprises me. I used to turn around, walk back to the room where my journey originated while deeply concentrating on my mission. What was I looking for in the kitchen junk-drawer?

I used to pace, talk to myself, allow my frustration to simmer– sometimes boil– until I remembered. Now I have adopted a new strategy: I stand still. I just stand there, with my hand on the drawer pull or door handle, and I wait for my mind to reboot. Sometimes when I draw a blank, I am able to recover quickly, after mere seconds of stillness. Other times my brain boots up like my old PC, which we bought in 1999 and eventually gave to our daughters when it was only useful for playing Solitaire and typing short essays.

I may have burned more calories pacing and growing irritated with myself, but I feel better standing still, silent, unthinking, only blinking, waiting for my memory to regain its mobility. My mind may be less nimble than it was in my youth, but my body remains perfectly poised, ready to welcome the return of every stray thought.