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Our brains are so incredible, so complex, so important. And we don’t use them enough. We allow them to become numb to what we really care about.
And what we really care about should not simply be football games, or movies or TV shows, or what clothes we wear or where we might go on vacation. An open mind can open eyes to an amazing world with amazing people with amazing minds. Yours can be one of them. You can be one of them.
What would you do if you thought that your mind was going to stop working someday (and it will, though if you’re lucky, it will only stop working when you are dead! Think about that!!)? Or, perhaps worse, what would you do if you knew that your mind was going to keep working but you could not pull out thoughts of which you have glimpses but then those thoughts all too quickly recede: A fleeting thought that you can’t quite seem to reach. Would you say to yourself, “I better watch more TV while I can. I better buy more clothes while I can.”?
Or would you get inspired and say to yourself, “I better learn while I can. I better read while I can. I better think while I can. I better see what my world’s all about while I can. I better write while I can. I better love while I can. I better do while I can.”?
I hope so. You have much to give, even if you don’t know it. Learn it. Know it. Do it.
Someone said that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. We need to stop wasting it while we have it, and we need to find a way to stop it from wasting in the future, and perhaps even to cure it or treat it when it starts to fade.
There is a new blog site called The Slow Forget, started by Janice Extrom Sheridan, my sister.
I encourage you to check it out.
This terrible disease is affecting and afflicting more and more of us everyday.
I wrote a piece called “That You Remember Me” several years back, in honor of my wife’s mother, Marie. Marie is 93 years old and still alive and able to talk, though it can be hard to understand her at times. She can walk with assistance, and she remains a very loving and caring woman. She is still taken care of by her husband and a live-in caregiver, Rose, who does an amazing job with her, but everyone in the family is involved too. The ironic and sad thing is that when people talk to Marie, she does talk back, and it seems that she really does remember, but just can’t pull it out of her head and articulate it (though she does articulate it at times, especially when people slow down and take the time to talk to her, with her, and when they listen to her).
It is almost impossible for any of us to imagine that someday someone we love might suffer with this condition, and even more, it is almost impossible to conceive that we might suffer from it ourselves. Just as we really cannot begin to understand that some day we will no longer exist on this earth, so too, I think, it is almost impossible to think that we might have Alzheimer’s or dementia. And yet the statistics say that many of us will get it, and almost certainly someone we love will suffer from it, and the rest of the family will suffer right along, in its own way.
When I wrote “That You Remember Me,” I was contemplating what it must be like for the person who begins to suspect that memories, abilities, cognitive perceptions, etc. are receding. Of course, we sometimes wonder if brief memory losses, and we (at least I do) make jokes about forgetting where the keys are, or why we went into a certain room, or how many career wins Greg Maddux had, or who won the American League pennant in 1959, or who won the Oscar for best actress last year. And then we go on. (BTW, I’d give the answers, but I forgot them! Actually, the answers are: the kitchen; to look for the keys; 355; White Sox; and Jennifer Lawrence). But there comes a point where I suspect that we might suspect that it is something more than that. And I wondered how frightening that must be.
Here are the first two stanzas of “That You Remember Me”:
“I’ve learned so much throughout my life
but there’s much I don’t recall.
I know it’s in there somewhere
but it’s hard to find it all.
It’s not that I’ve forgotten you,
or the things I said I’d do;
I remember everything
but it’s hidden somewhere I can’t see
just beyond my view.
“You see, there is a shadow where
there didn’t used to be,
and sometimes when I look right there
it just confuses me.”
To see the whole poem, click the black photo above.