With the increased pace of life these days it should come as no surprise that the mind sometimes decides to pack up and desert us. I can easily recall inconsequential incidents from years ago, I’m pretty good at remembering exactly where or when I bought an item of clothing even if I’ve had it for years, but increasingly my short term memory performance is not at the top of its game.
I could be lacking some vital nutrient, at times it is just plain sleep deprivation but the main culprit is the amount of distractions that today’s world throws up. I’ve decided my mind is very like my airing cupboard. I tidy it up regularly and I will admit that once completed I stand back and admire the neat bundles and the sense of order and space. I obviously have some sort of ‘control’ issue that manifests itself in getting pleasure out of tidy hot presses. Anyway, usually the week takes over and things get put in there on their way to other places. Like a halfway house, items like socks and underwear, that don’t live in that space permanently, drop by on their way to the drawers or wardrobes.
Often the underwear is joined by some freshly ironed stuff, some of which may actually reside in the space but it arrives in a bundle and is not immediately separated out into its resident piles. Then a t-shirt will be pulled from the back in a hurry, knocking over some other stuff and as the days pass it once again drifts into a state of disorder. That is exactly what happens in my head if I don’t deal with all the little things straight away.
Mobile phones, text alerts and emails are some of the major culprits of distraction. Because everyone is so easily accessible these days there is a constant stream of information coming in but little time to sort it out into its necessary ‘bundles’. Of course you can employ the ‘rules’. It always sounds so simple; put like with like. Only deal with one piece of paper at a time and when finished file it or bin it. Regularly prune wardrobes, handbags and other stuff depositories. As soon as you are finished with something put it away. A place for everything and everything in its place. These ‘rules’ work, but life doesn’t always play to rules and you could easily give yourself a nervous breakdown if you were to get upset every time one needed to be broken.
A short term memory malfunction is probably one of the best indicators that your virtual airing cupboard needs to be tidied out. Only a few nights ago while coming out of a family event and en route to my parents, my brother-in-law remarked that he was actually parked directly behind me and asked if he could transfer some stuff for my parents to my car as he had to go somewhere else. “No problem”, I said. The cars were literally around the corner. He walked ahead and I got distracted by someone for a few seconds. Then I ran to my car, jumped in, started the engine and pulled off, forgetting completely about our very recent conversation. It was raining and very dark and I was quite tired. A few miles out the road I remembered. I laughed at myself and the absurdity of it. Was that a ‘senior moment’ perhaps?
There is too much head noise in modern life. It is recommended by all the sages that you stay very much in the present and live the moment thus avoiding moments like the one above. That is much easier said than done. Usually we are miles ahead of ourselves. When did you last actually enjoy taking a shower without using the time to plan the day ahead or think about something else. How many times have you turned off the oven or plugged out the iron only to get out the door and wonder if you had actually done it. You can’t remember so you pop back in just to be safe. That’s because you did it on autopilot without thinking.
According to the experts it is the fault of the ego. Most of us believe that people with big egos are the obnoxious ones who have far too much regard for themselves but unfortunately even ‘nice’ people develop egos that work against them. I read an article recently by Wayne Dyer that put it very succinctly. It said, ‘babies in the womb are not in there wondering and worrying if their nose is going to arrive or their fingernails will develop. They just let it happen, surrendering themselves to a force totally outside themselves. Once born the human starts to develop ego and basically says “Ok God, you did a pretty good job of making me but I’ll take over from here”. We then go on to develop ego and feel that we can do many things by ourselves.’
This total surrendering lark is hard but the odd time I manage to do it I have to say it really works. Choosing not to worry, letting go and allowing things to happen at their natural pace is very liberating. For example no matter how much or how quickly you want a broken leg to heal it will just go ahead and heal in its own natural, independent time. Regardless of your impatience to want it fixed and out of the cast it will proceed precisely at its own pace. Now of course you can cooperate and help the healing process by doing the right things or you can fight it and slow it down, but either way the ego, or for want of better words, what you think about the situation, is quite irrelevant.
All this busyness and noise can make us feel quite important as individuals but it is really of little use to our health and well being. I have finally decided I would much rather be relaxed and healthy rather than really busy and important. I heard a story recently that illustrates the point perfectly. A elderly man was sitting outside his small Ice cream parlour playing with his young grandson when an American tourist (Why are they always American?) went in for an ice cream. The tourist said, “My God, this is the best ice cream I have ever tasted. You should market this stuff properly it would really take off”. “Why would I do that said the owner?” The American went on to say that if he had the recipe for the ice cream he would open a chain of ice cream stores around the world. The old man asked again, “Why would I do that?” The American said he could earn lots of money and buy anything he wanted. “What would I do after that” asked the elderly man. “Well”, said the American, “then you could retire happily and spend lots of time with your grandchildren”. The old man pointed to the little boy sitting at the table and said: “that’s exactly what I’m doing now but without any of the stress that opening a chain of stores around the world involves”.
So that’s it. One thing at a time this week, no more multi tasking and multi thinking. I’m going to make an effort at surrender and see how I get on.