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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Making Do With a 73-Year-Old Brain

“Ever stop to think, then forget to start again?”
(bumper sticker on a friend’s car)

A week after my last birthday I found myself 15-minutes late to my regular bi-monthly meeting with some local chaplains.

Nothing too unusual about me being tardy (one of my friends once referred to me as “the late Harvey Yoder”) but this particular meeting was one I just plain forgot. And to make matters worse, it was held at my workplace, which means I was the unofficial host.

No great harm done, since our gracious secretary opened the meeting room for everyone and all was well. But I was embarrassed at having failed to recheck my daily schedule, one that had this event clearly marked.

I attribute all this to my 73-year-old brain. It has served me well enough over many years, but when it comes to memory, I’m having my share of senior moments.

For example, I more often draw a blank on names, not yet of family members, co-workers or close friends, but sometimes of other people that have been in and out of my life over the years. I justify this somewhat by my having been blessed with so many good connections in so many different contexts. For example, former students of one of my annual Lifelong Learning Institute classes (fifteen since 1996) often come up to me expecting me to recognize them. They usually look familiar, though sometimes even their faces escape me.

My brain has other quirks I’ve learned to live with. Like just plain absent mindedness, a trait my own mother often pointed out when I was growing up. Either I was engrossed in some book or my mind was far away just daydreaming and not paying attention to tasks at hand. I still lack attention to details like where I left a tool, my check book or some important papers. Speaking of the latter, I tend to be a better “piler” than a “filer.”

To make matters worse, I’ve been wired with a trace of obsessive-compulsiveness. Not enough to be diagnosable, but as an odd example I used to feel a need to straighten out any twisted cord on a land line phone. I have also found it very hard to toss anything away that might be of use to someone sometime. My mother actually taught me this, especially when it comes to never throwing away food that some other creature might enjoy, or that should go on the compost pile. That kind of “should” is still strong (though I’m not as much of a hoarder as someone I heard of who kept a container labeled “strings too short to use”).

Finally, I sometimes find my brain operatng in overdrive, and at inconvenient times like 4 am when I could use another couple of hours of sleep. This often involves ruminating over ideas for a future radio spot, an article or a blog post, like this one.

Results of this nocturnal brainstorming may vary. Reader discretion is advised. Take into account that this is the product of a 73-year-old brain.

But since it’s the only one I have, I’ll just thank God every day and try to make the best of it.
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