Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Weekly Roundup 14: For Memory's Sake

Hello there, and sorry for the late post. The week has gotten away from me!

Not that many years ago, I had a lot of information committed to memory. Names, phone numbers, addresses, birthdays, passwords. Now, I have technology for that. Like everyone, I store lots of information in my phone. While I still remember my childhood best friend's phone number and address, I sometimes struggle recalling which three items I need from the grocery store. 

One day I wondered if I could memorize a poem, something I haven't done since junior high school. It sounded like a fun challenge, so I chose one I like--For C.W.B., by Elizabeth Bishop--and set about committing it to memory.

And, wow. Starting out was much harder than I anticipated, to the point where I got a little concerned and wondered if I had ignored my memory for too long.

I told myself, well, I don't write poetry. Maybe that's part of the problem. My brain just isn't used to thinking that way. But I kept at it, at an embarrassingly slow pace, and now I have the first two stanzas down. 

What's more, I'm discovering an unanticipated benefit: when my thoughts are stressed or anxious (which happens more than I care to admit) mentally returning to the lines of the poem helps me focus and find a bit of calm. If I'm awake in the night, I can sometimes recite myself back to sleep. 

This is no great discovery on my part--humans have been doing this for millennia--but I still appreciate how grounding it feels. Instead of looking at or listening to an app on my phone, I can turn to these words written in 1929 by a woman who would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

Oh, and April is National Poetry Month, so if you'd like to memorize a poem, it's the perfect time to start/

See you next week!



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