I sit fascinated every time I order at a restaurant and the server, without writing anything down, smiles and says things like, “Would you like mayo or mustard, sweet or un-sweet, medium or well done,” then walks away to punch it into the computer. I’ve often wondered if a mini recorder is hidden somewhere.
Jim Brawner can tell you phone numbers and addresses of grade school friends and dates of important happenings for the last 40 years. He amazes me with how he can remember names. A trip to the grocery store without a list is a different story.
Stage actors commit pages of script to memory. They do have a little wiggle room in case they forget a line or two and leave out a word because the audience doesn’t really know the difference. My friend Joe White has chapters and chapters of scripture memorized and recites it with emphasis and emotion. It amazes me.
Memorizing comes easier to some than others. There are countless programs to improve skills. I’m sure I could find one for $19.95 to try. Honestly unless I write it down, it’s gone, never to be recalled until someone reminds me. I slap myself on the forehead every time like it will jar something loose so I won’t forget again.
My 10th grade English teacher had memorizing poetry high on her list of important things for us to accomplish. One day a week she would give us a list of short poems and by the end of class we had to recite at least three to her. If you could knock out more she gave extra credit. Thursdays made me a nervous wreck. Becky and I were the only girls in the class of thirty, which was intimidating enough, but she was a good memorizer. I felt like the cheese who stood alone in Farmer in the Dell.
Once we had to memorize a classic poem and I chose “If” by Rudyard Kipling. I can still recite the first four lines, which for me, are the most meaningful: “If you can keep your head when all about you, are losing theirs and blaming it on you; if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too; …
I can trust myself with a lot of things, but memorizing is not one of them. That’s why sticky notes were invented.