What do you remember?

Memory is a tricky thing – that compartment in your head that keeps all the data, information, pictures, smells, experiences safely tucked away behind closed doors.

I have no better memory than the person next to me. I’m bad with names and faces, a weakness that doesn’t bode well for me, being in business.

Last night, I watched the last episode of Sherlock featuring Benedict Cumberbatch. I am incredibly impressed with his astute observation skills and almost-almost-always-100%-correct deductive reasoning. (I tried doing this once, making deductions about some family drama, but then I remembered how judgmental it may all sound. I am reminded of this phrase: Our job is not to see through people but to see people through.)

There was a character there (and at this point, if you haven’t seen it but wish to see it, then be forewarned: SPOILER AHEAD!) who described his storehouse of files. Picture a library. Rows and rows of bookshelves housing data on people of interests hidden inside thick steel vaults.

He was a businessman. These information served a purpose. And that’s for blackmail. Power in his hands.

Upon opening the door leading to the vaults, to Sherlock’s surprise, the room only revealed a chair. Where are the vaults? Ah, it’s all in his mind. “Mind palace” he and Sherlock both called it. He did say he had an excellent memory.

I am amazed at this concept of “mind palace”. It’s as if you can actually walk through rooms after rooms, floor after floor of information in your head if you so wish it. Flipping through folders in your mind with your hand.

To Sherlock, it was his hard drive with a limited capacity. He, at times, would need to delete data to make room for other more important ones.

For a moment I thought of how incredible it would be to have the same capability. Imagine having such a powerful memory! Never having to walk into a room again and be embarrassed for not remembering so and so. Your mind can be trained to do so. But then it dawned on me how much a bane it can be as much as a boon. Remember “The eternal sunshine of the spotless mind”? They wanted to forget. In “Someone like you” featuring Jodie Foster, she wanted to have that part of her memory removed, as the smell awfully reminded her of him.

Nevertheless, I am all for improving one’s memory. This is exercise for the brain and helps slow down its degenerative process. Also, I believe it makes us better people (remembering names, attentive listening, becoming more mindful and thoughtful, etc).

Here are some resources I found on how to do that:

Tips, tricks and devices

Meditation

Food

Now if we can all stop being “idiots” as Sherlock fondly calls us ordinary people.. Cheerio!

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