Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things. – Cicero
What does that mean?
A treasury is the place where you keep your treasures, all those things you value. The quote says, in part, that that is one of the jobs of our memory.
It also says that our memory is the guardian of all things. Well, what good is a treasury without a guard? But I think it goes a little deeper than simply watching over our favorite memories.
Looking at it from the other direction, our memories are a treasury not only of the things we love, but also of the lessons we have learned. And remembering these things can be important.
The ability to remember those memories can be very important in critical situations. After all, who wants to make the same mistake twice? Quite a waste of time and effort, right?
Why is remembering things important?
I’d tell you, but I forgot. Seriously, don’t you hate it when you know that you know something, but you just can’t remember it? Does your brain ever play hide-and-seek with you, withholding something important? Do you just flat-out forget? How often would things be different, even a little, if you could remember?
Forgetfulness could cost us a shot at a job, if we can’t remember something the interviewer thinks we should know. It could cost us our job, if we can’t remember where something important or expensive was put or we forget to call the customer and conclude terms of a negotiation. And that’s just on one side of our lives.
Have you ever forgotten a birthday? That can get ugly if you aren’t careful, or if you aren’t quick with an apology and something to placate them. The same for any other inter-personal event, such as wedding anniversaries or other special days in the lives of your friends or family.
Then there is the emotional hit you take when you have to admit you don’t remember something you should. Have you ever had to admit you don’t know why today is a special day for someone else? Have you seen their face fall? How did that make you feel? So, how important is it to remember things? Very!
Where can I apply this in my life?
Recently, I forgot a birthday of a friend. That didn’t go over very well, and much groveling was required to get things back to normal. That got me to thinking about how best to remember things like birthdays. I used to keep track of them on a paper calendar, but I haven’t been doing that for a while.
Remembering is one of the many functions of the mind. However, not all of us are as good at remembering as we are at math or other things. And for some reason, many of us have trouble remembering birthdays, but can remember the lyrics to every song they liked in High School or College. Weird, isn’t it?
For those who have no difficulty remembering, this post probably isn’t going to have much for you. For everyone else, there may be some tips which help you, and you may have some ideas I haven’t seen or thought of yet. Please feel free to add any thoughts or ideas you may have in the comments section below.
Things I have done are the usual basics. I use paper to help me remember things, usually lists or other short-term things. For things which will take longer to complete, or where losing them might cause me to have to spend a great deal of time recreating them, I often use a text editor and print the list, and reprint it if I ever lose it.
Which brings us to all the useful things we can do with modern technology. If you use a phone, a tablet, a laptop, or a computer, there is no reason to forget anything. You should get reminders from any or all of these devices, especially given the way everything interconnects these days.
Which only serves to point out the weak point in any strategy or plan. The human. The only way a list or our technology can remind us is if first we capture the data. Your phone can’t remind you that tomorrow is your step-mom’s birthday if it isn’t in your phone. Your grocery list can’t remind you to get more chocolate if you don’t write it down, right?
What methods do you use to remember things, from frequent things to those once-a-year events? How do you capture them? Where do you capture them? How do you remind yourself? Does the string-on-the-finger trick work for you, or do you just stare it it, trying to remember why you tied it on in the first place?
What do you tend to forget most often, and what can you do to help remember these things? What are you going to do to make sure this happens? After all, this isn’t a purely intellectual issue, it has real-world consequences. Don’t vow to take action later, get started on it right now.
After all, you might not remember to do it later.