My head is full of several billion memories. At least. I remember years ago reading that a British scientist, Whately Carrington, determined that memories have mass. Interesting notion. Sometimes it feels like I’m walking around with the heaviest head on the planet. Especially, if I consider that traumatic memories – composed of neurons often linked together in clusters and unconsciously housed as “dissociation capsules” in the right brain – might be heavier than a simple memory like: I used to live at 356 Wilmot Road in New Haven, Connecticut, or my phone number in 1956 was Fulton 7-4089. Traumatic memories certainly feel heavier emotionally.
Reading Readiness, Not!
I also think reading should be delayed as long as possible. Perhaps for a whole lifetime – now there’s an experiment that would need a radical change in cultural consciousness! But since that’s not likely to happen, perhaps we could delay learning to read until high school. Or middle school at a minimum. I can readily imagine kids chomping at the bit, fired with anticipation, sneaking off and hooking up with other rebels in the reading underground. Make it taboo or something that requires patience, and reading will surely go viral. Hmmm. Never mind. Scratch that idea. Ideally, a long delay in reading would lessen “the burden of memory” at least a little bit.
I also think it’s a good thing that Kindles and iPads and Nooks are doing away with books. How many of the millions of words in books are we actually able to translate into constructive, useful action in the real world? For example, what has all my bible-reading gotten me? (Besides crucified a few times!). At least with eBooks now being interactive, and word meanings being one-click accessible, my memory doesn’t have to be burdened so much with definitions. Nor does my writing memory have to be weighed down with spelling, punctuation and grammar rules. I doubt I’ll miss the urge to hunker down and diagram a sentence ever again (something I’m sure many of you are thankfully clueless about!).
Thoughts are like refuse: truckloads of them are delivered through the day in response to lived experience. Many of them are lightweight, organic and green. Others, especially those fear and anger-based, are heavy and hard to recycle. Dreams help break those thoughts down each night, but if we can get ourselves and our kids in the habit of doing a review at the end of each day, we can significantly aid and abet the thought composting process. Try it for a month. See what happens. If you really want to spice things up, don’t just simply review the day in words, but make a game of it by having kids act out the review, or pantomime it, draw it, or dance it in review. Often, the fewer words we use in the review, the better the odds of tomorrow showing up as Liberation Day.
Lose the News
What’s another way to lessen this burden on our own and our children’s developing neural networks? Ditch classes in History and Current Events. Near as I can tell learning history has done virtually nothing at all in undooming us from repeating it. And Swiss novelist Rolf Dobelli makes a convincing argument here that news is bad for the health of children and other living creatures, like parents. Among other things, news makes us passive, hampers creativity and negatively structures critical portions of the brain. Mostly, the only really meaningful news is what’s happening in any moment, right here, right now.
When my daughter Amanda was growing up, every morning in the breakfast nook she would see a positive affirmation – a sign I hand-carved that read simply: “I am power – full.” Affirmations like that can be pretty powerful antibiotics for the toxic thoughts that randomly emerge in heart-brain-mind-bodies, left to their own devices. Affirmations connected to heart, and repeated with great depth and feeling, can work alchemical magic. Check out little Jessica’s body language here spinning her refuse pile of thoughts into fine gold by doing daily affirmations. Tell me you don’t recognize a dynamo-in-the-making. Finally, one powerful way to connect affirmations to heart is to filter them through The Two Perilous Questions. Go ahead, try it for a week, or a month. I double dare you.