Sometimes it’s Good to Shuffle

It was the introduction of the ridiculously tiny iPod Shuffle manufactured by Apple that first got me thinking about it.

The clue is in the name.

Namely, that every now and then, I could allow the music I had selected to play in a completely random order – aka shuffle mode.

Many people of course, far prefer the order they have already chosen for their music to be played back to them.

I think I sit somewhere in between the two preferences.

On the one hand, I really enjoy the random nature of shuffle mode – not knowing what is coming next, or as some people have described it, like having your very own personalised radio station, with no commercials, no DJ presenter to ruin the flow.

On the other hand, even if I haven’t played a certain play-list for some time, my subconscious memory knows what track is coming up next, within seconds of the current one ending. I love this feeling every time it happens and it is not restricted to music play-lists.

It can be applied to journeys that have not been repeated for years.

Or TV documentaries, particularly about history or sport. I can be watching something and of course, the subject interests me (otherwise I wouldn’t be watching – I cannot stand TV as mere background noise!) but I may not have thought about the subject matter for a very long time indeed.

Earlier this year, I watched the fascinating series called Thatcher: A Very British Revolution. During the episode concerned with the Falklands War, there was an interview with her Defence Secretary at the time, and I instantly knew his name long before it came up on the screen – Sir John Nott.

How did I know that? He has not been in the public eye for many years and with all due respect to his achievements, he was not exactly a high profile politician and disappeared from public life just a few months after the Falklands War was concluded.

Is it my photographic memory syncing with a memory for names? Perhaps.

Whatever it is, I am one of those people who love it when I instinctively know what is coming next – music or man, woman, date or action about to be revealed.

I am not saying this is particularly rare. I think a lot of people experience this as part of accessing their locked vault of subconscious memories that is so brilliantly explained by Malcolm Gladwell in his superb book Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.

What I am saying is this: Sometimes it’s Good to Shuffle.

In other words, whether it is the music you’re listening to or the way you go about your normal, everyday duties at work or home.

Why not mix it up a bit and see where that takes you?

And even better, put your music on shuffle while you’re at it! šŸ™‚

 

 

Memories are Made of This…

Apparently, there are three significant things that begin occurring when you start getting old. You begin losing your memory; you begin losing your hair; and the third thing is…I’ve forgotten!
Just to be clear from the outset here, I do not feel like I am getting old, even though I am most certainly, albeit rather reluctantly in the middle-aged category, despite my youthful looks and energy!
I have always been fascinated by the things we somehow remember as opposed to the stuff we simply forget. I remember watching a documentary many, many years ago about first memories and the typical age from which you can recall certain things. Afterwards, I tried to recall my very first memory and it was this: I was sitting in a high chair and there were a few people in the room. Someone was approaching me with a cake that had a lit candle on it. I checked in with my Mum and assumed it must have been my second birthday (the documentary said the average earliest memory that can usually be recalled is around age two.) I asked her, “But I could only see one candle on the cake. Did you lose the other one?” She replied, “No, of course not!Ā It was your first birthday!”
I was impressed to say the least. The fact that most days I may go upstairs to get or do something and by the time I arrive there, I have completely forgotten why I went in the first place, or worse, come back down without even realising I’ve forgotten all about the original reason I went upstairs in the first placeĀ does not of course negate this brilliant feat of memory recall.
Where I do still genuinely excel is in the category of photographic memory. Now I don’t claim to be able to memorise telephone directories or reel off twenty-five digit codes a la secret agents old and new but I do recall with consummate ease familiar car number plates to such a degree that I will recognise a friend’s car instantly and in the past for fun, have called that person to enquire why they are speeding or chopping lanes so randomly. And pre-mobile-phone-address books, I would know virtually every contact’s number I needed without consulting my hard copy address book or Filofax. Perhaps this is where my memory works well with repetition, I forget.

So I have a small challenge for you as you consider your memories and the hopefully happy collection of images, smells, names and numbers – both recent and distant.

What is your favourite ever memory?
When was the last time you created a memory to even begin rivalling that favourite?
What memories have you yet to make?
How long will you give yourself before you forget your desire for those yet-to-be-made memories?
Making Memories

“Mindfulness” is all the rage right now and no doubt some are becoming increasingly cynical about the pressureĀ to be so focussed on “being in the present moment” that it is very easy to miss the point altogether. What if we ditched that term and simply called it “Memory Making”?