By Kevin Brown | Bio
Recently I was speaking with a friend about his bright four-year-old son. During the conversation, my friend noted how he was amazed at the ability of his son to recall events and details that had occurred many months prior. He marveled that his son could so easily and effortlessly recall information that for most adults would have long since been forgotten. Upon hearing his comments, I rather jokingly gave my normal response when confronted with similar comments about smart children with great memory. “It’s not that children have such great memory, they just have not experienced enough of life to have the mass of information stored in their brains that adults do!” I was clinging to my story that adults would have a similar ability to recall distant facts if their brains were not so cluttered with information built up over the course of their lives. Children, I was thinking, have a vast majority of their brains cells empty, just waiting to be filled. I like to think of memory in the context of a hard drive on a computer. When the hard drive is new, there is seemingly an infinite amount of space to store information. However, once it is full (assuming you don’t buy additional memory), you just have to delete some information to make room for new information. Simplistic, I am sure, but you get the point. Adults it seems, just have too much information they have amassed and therefore it gets challenging to recall bits of information stored somewhere in our memory bank. Now, as I sit at my computer I am looking back on my own childhood playing in my backyard. I can recall how every little thing held my attention. It did not seem to matter whether it was toys in my pool, the playfulness of my cat, or the homing pigeons above the neighbor’s garage. And in the evenings when my parents had friends or relatives over to our home, you would find me right in the middle of the room clinging to every word that was being said and observing the goings on during the evening with keen interest. I had an unquenchable curiosity about everything. Every event, every bit of information, every experience was all so new and each one held my undivided attention. It seemed I too could instantly recall information and experiences that had occurred months, sometimes years, earlier. And now, well, I like many other adults am challenged to recall the name of someone I met just minutes earlier at a party. What gives? Could it be that perhaps the challenge for adults in recalling names, portions of discussion, and other such information is that there is just too much noise occurring in our listening? Might that noise in fact be generated by that silent voice in our heads that just seems to have an opinion, a judgment, an assessment, or some other errant thought right in the middle of every moment we experience? “What silent voice?”, you ask as you read this. Well, the one that is busy judging the article so far. The one that is recalling your childhood as you read this article! What if we could just remove that noise and be truly present in every conversation, in every experience of life? Is it possible that we might find when we enter into conversations or into new experiences in life that without that internal noise, we seem to be fully present and, as a result, take in and process more information so that we can recall that information with relative ease? That has been my experience of late. It just seems that when I enter into conversations with an intention to be fully present, I seem to hear everything that is being said and my interactions with people are richer for it. Perhaps not surprisingly, my ability to recall information from those conversations and previous experiences is much more successful. It may be that the only difference between the ability of children and adults to recall information is that children are naturally present in the moment with an intense curiosity about everything of life. As adults, we must put aside our inner voices that tells us, “Been there, done and heard that!” Let us consider that every new moment is just that … a new moment in our precious life and fully worthy of our complete attention and interest.
© 2009 Kevin Brown. All rights reserved.