I’ve been blessed with a terrible memory. Yep, you read that right, blessed. The instant I read, see or think just about anything, the structure, phrasing and details are forgotten.
Over time, I’ve come to look at what I once believed was my own personal nightmare to be my own private gift. While I often forget the words, I rarely forget the core of an idea. The details fade, but the feelings that a particular post, story or even a piece of art evoke remain. I can never remember quite what the tree looked like, but the seeds always manage to plant themselves somewhere in my mind.
As I try to find my way, this inability to remember your ideas consistently forces me to find my own. You inform them, but all of the concepts swirl together into my own little belief system and my own way of making things happen. Now this often leads to me “borrowing ideas” (hell, the whole theme of this blog was unwittingly stolen from a Tweet), but I’ve become a big believer that nothing is original, that everything is a remix, that we are meant to constantly steal ideas (read: get inspired) from those around us.
We spend our lives attempting to memorize details and in this pursuit, we often overlook the essence. Try letting the ideas and not the words sink in. Refuse the rote and avoid a rigid ideology. Develop your own swirl, a personal philosophy based on the things you’ve taken in that resonate. You now have enough information at your fingertips not to become trapped by any one piece of it.
That’s not to say that the swirl has some serious downsides… I sometimes “steal” because I can’t remember the source (sometimes I forget that there even was one). I wish it wasn’t so easy for an idea to fall right out of my head, yet time and time again it does. It’s why I’ve come to count heavily on tools to help capture ideas and to-dos as a backup to my sieve-like memory. But with the right foundation, the upside outshines the challenges, especially as I grow to trust in myself and my process. The swirl empowers me to be more nimble in my thinking and open to new ideas. It also makes it easy to challenge my own beliefs and leaves me to open to new and better ways.
If you have a firm belief system that works for you, ignore me, but if you’re one of the many who can’t find something that fits, trust your instincts, trust your ability to absorb what’s really important, trust in your own personal swirl. Once you forget about how much you remember, you’ll be surprised by how much you already know.