Something is going on with my mind.
I would like to say I am getting much more brilliant (which coming from a ZERO on the McAdams Scale of Brilliance would be a nice accomplishment after living 33 years) but this is, unfortunately, not the case.
There has always been some basic understanding, and even acceptance, I was not destined to make an impact on this world by doing something meaningful for society like, for instance, curing cancer, orchestrating peace between warring nations, leading an equality movement for little people or developing a dog food that will automatically plant a rose seed at the spot where the dog’s poop hits the ground.
I know my limitations and have learned to work within them to accomplish feats on a much smaller, less globally impactful scale. My attention has turned to teaching my daughter to stop wiping her boogers on her mom and I as a joke, cranking out one original blog post every 4-6 weeks or, well, continuing to work on the dog-rose-poop thing because I still think it would benefit mankind greatly.
The larger issue I happen to be facing, though, is my failure to remember things, or more specifically, people. I used to feel like my mind was a steel trap. Even the most random of facts and figures would remain locked tightly inside yet still easily accessible for future use.
Now, I’m not so sure.
While visiting a neighborhood cat down the street with my daughter (yes, I said cat), I had the opportunity to meet the cat’s owner. We talked for a few minutes about some random stuff and as I prepared to leave, I realized we had never formally introduced ourselves.
So, I apologized for not doing so, extended my hand and told him my name.
He shook my hand, told me his name and that was that…but then it wasn’t.
Within about 10 seconds of this exchange, this was my memory of the encounter:
Me: (extending my hand) I’m sorry. My name is Tim.
Neighbor: (shaking my hand) I’m __________.
Yep, I had already forgotten his name. My mind tried to scan the last few seconds of our conversation to retrieve the information but it was like it had been sent to the mental abyss, which has been feeding on my nugget-sized cerebrum since I mentally peaked at the age of 6.
It would be nice to say this was an isolated incident, but it is not. This happens all the time when I meet new people and it is embarrassing. I usually try and cover up for my lapse of recall by throwing in a generic man, bro or dude (dudette for the ladies) into the goodbye and hope they don’t call me on my refusal to use their name mere minutes from the initial introduction.
Now, there are a few explanations for this sharp decline in my…uhhh…neuro-faculties.
- I have entered into the very, very, very early stages of “name dementia”. This is a rare affliction and occurs mostly in early 30s, Caucasian males over 6’3” with dark hair and less than 4% muscle mass on the entirety of their bodies.
- God is showing me His own brand of karmic humor by making “Dad Brain” – a steep decline in mental sharpness upon the arrival of children into the family – an actual thing. (I often joke that our daughter began sucking the intelligence from my wife – who definitely had enough to spare – at the moment of conception, which has left her with “Mom Brain” and results in the inability to remember trivial things or stay focused during conversations. She would definitely laugh a little bit if this were actually the case.)
But really, I have settled on the truth of the matter. My priorities are messed up.
The reason I don’t remember a person’s name mere seconds or minutes after meeting them, is not due to age, time or disease. It’s because they are not important to me.
Shouldn’t they be, though? Should I not be seeking to connect and engage in the brief or “meaningless” encounters of my day?
Of course I should.
I used to think the parable about the servant who was eventually trusted with much because he was shown to be faithful with little, was all about money. But God has been teaching me the much more important focus of this lesson is my faithfulness to the people He places in my life, whether for a moment or many years, will have to be a priority if I am to make an impact on a larger scale.
I am too introverted to seek a large scale impact like that for myself, but believe I will never be an effective witness for Christ if I don’t seek it for His namesake.
At this very moment, I am 51% sure the gentleman’s name I had so quickly forgotten from earlier is Jack. It could be because Jack is actually the name he said or maybe I just figured he looks like a Jack and therefore must be.
Either way, I am attempting to learn my lesson and will do my best to engage beyond the superficial and re-train my mind to process encounters with humans as more important than retaining the screenplay of The Princess Bride for possible quoting at future family holiday gatherings.
And, just a final bit of clarification for all of my long-time friends out there. I truly consider the term brother as a display of affection, so please don’t read this and think I have forgotten your name. There is an 80% chance I still know it.