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Not talking – just doing

Posted Jan 04 2013 7:08am

Remember this guy? ‘Round about 1973…

So, it’s a new year, and for the first time in a long, long time, I have made no new year’s resolutions. None. I’ve thought about them, here and there, but the very idea of having a new year’s resolution leaves me cold.

So, I’m not doing it this year. If I know I need to make a change — like uninstalling Facebook from my smartphone and not “zoning out” to music while I’m driving to work — then I’m just going to make the change. If the change is good and needed, I will continue it. If the change seemed like a good idea at the time, but it turns out to be a dumb idea after all, I’ll change to something else.

But I will change. Not just talk about changing, but actually doing it.

Truth to tell, all the old resolutions stuff — as inspiring as it is at the end of the old year — is just clutter in my brain and in my life. If I really need to make a change, it’s not going to hinge on a certain time of year. It’s going to apply — and get applied — anytime during the year. And it’s going to be a real thing, not something that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Part of the issue with me coming up with resolutions that seem like good ideas, is that, well, I just forget. I start going about my regular life, and if there’s something that’s new and different that I’m trying to introduce that makes more sense on paper than in practice, I can pretty much guarantee I’ll forget to do it… and then time will pass, and I will look at my end-of-year notes in April or May, and surprise(!) there will be my resolutions, all neatly written down… and not at all accomplished.

And with that begins the self-accusation and recriminations and me telling myself I’m worthless, just because my memory looks more like Swiss cheese than a block of concrete (though concrete is porous, so maybe there’s a better metaphor). Anyway, getting used to the idea that my memory leaves a LOT to be desired, is something that has taken me years to get used to. I used to be so convinced that I could actually remember anything and everything that people said to me, and when I couldn’t remember later, I wondered what was wrong with them — or me — or the world. I never actually “got” that my memory was really, really shitty, until I took my first neuropsych evaluation, about four years ago.

Then, when I found out what the real situation was/is, it freaked me out and put me in a funk for months. Because somehow I associated memory with intelligence, and part of me figured that if I couldn’t remember things, I was/am an idiot.

Au contraire. Not being able to remember shit doesn’t make you an idiot. If anything, it makes you a certain kind of savant. Because you have to figure out ways of getting through life “on the fly”. And you have to improvise on a moment’s notice. Not having a decent memory is NO indicator of intelligence.

It will be interesting to learn how my most recent test results come out — I have another couple of hours of testing this afternoon after work, to follow on the testing I did about 3 weeks ago. I’m not sure I blogged about my test before – I got pretty busy. Can’t remember, exactly… but in that last test in December, it really amazed me how little I could actually remember — numbers and letters interspersed with working memory tasks… holy crap, I couldn’t remember much of anything at all — I drew a total blank a bunch of times. Crazy. I knew that I had seen / heard letters and/or numbers, but damn if I could remember what they were… they were just gone. And in their place was a very large, dark, silent void.

Listen to letters said aloud. Count backwards quickly. After 15 seconds stop and repeat the letters I heard… crickets. Nothing. It was crazy. There were times when I would just sit quietly and keep my mind calm, and then some letters would show up. But most of the time, the deep, dark, silent space in my head would stay just that — deep, dark, and silent.

For some people, that might be scary. It’s like you’re sitting there in the dark, not knowing what’s going to come out of the shadows. For some, that can be terrifying — to not have any thought activity at all “in there”. But for me, it’s not unusual at all. That doesn’t mean I’m any less intelligent, it just means that in some places where other people have constant activity and noise and light filling their heads, I have deep, dark silence.

And that’s actually not such a bad thing. Some monks and meditators spend years, decades, their whole lives trying to reach that. I’m lucky to have that void “pre-installed” — though whether that’s because of TBI / concussion or some other experience/facet of my life, is unclear. I’m guessing it’s related to all my head injuries, because it becomes most obvious when I am trying to access my working memory and I’m getting nothing.

I would imagine that for some people — who are used to constant noise and light and activity — that could be pretty scary. It might make a person think they’re losing their mind. But it’s always been that way for me, so it doesn’t scare me. If anything, it’s been my refuge through all the years of frustration and pain and hurt and alienation. It’s like “home” to me. It’s a quiet place in the midst of all the chaos of life, and that’s not a bad thing to have.

So, the new year is upon us, and for the first time in a long time, I’m not still writing 2012 on everything. I’ve been looking forward to getting away from 2012, since, well, 2010… all that end of the world blah-blah-blah just gets obnoxious after a while. Please. The new year is a new chance, and I am so looking forward to finding out what’s ahead. I’ll get more information from my new round of testing, I’ll see where I’ve improved (recounting the story that was read to me, several times in the course of the session went better this time than the first, I believe), and I’ll see what else is up. It could be that I’ve improved greatly all across the board. I have no idea, honestly, how I did — anyone’s guess is as good as mine, and I’d never bet money on it.

I literally don’t know.

But I do know this — taking action is a whole lot more appealing to me, than making a list of things I’m going to do, and then forgetting about them till April. Action I can remember. Words written down on a piece of paper in December… not so much.

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