James Giago Davies. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today

James Giago Davies: That struggle to remember what to remember

Remembering what you keep forgetting to remember

By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Today Columnist
Native Sun News Today

After a person extends a hand and offers an introduction, shake that hand and repeat their name out loud. This was how I was taught as a young journalist to remember a person’s name. Back then, more often than not, it worked.

Now the problem is, I often don’t remember I even met the person.

I used to just forget things I did not find interesting or important, but now I can forget just about anything, an address, a phone number, an appointment, a promise. If the past is interlocked in a relevant context, I can recall it extremely well, where I struggle is retrieving files filled with independent bits of information.

People who know you best don’t realize how much you struggle to remember anything. I drove down to Kyle for a basketball game, had everything I needed, but the camera wouldn’t work because it had no battery. The battery was plugged into an outlet back at the paper.

I specifically told Yo, our circulation manager, I was plugging it in above her desk so I could see it before I left, so I would not forget it. But I forgot it anyway.

When your memory starts to slip, best thing you can do is establish routine, and not break routine, even for what appears to be sensible precaution. My battery would have had enough juice for the trip to Kyle, but I broke routine to fully recharge. This recharge did not justify breaking routine, I was creating ripe opportunities to forget, where none need exist.

There seems to be no decrease in my critical thinking skills. Most of the people I interact with on a given day have a better memory for everyday things than I do, but far too many of them have minimal critical thinking capacity. I used to have contempt for them, but now that I routinely forget things, I have a deeper appreciation for limitations you cannot control. At least I am aware I am forgetting things, but they are unaware when their reasoning falls short. They attempt conversations where they talk “knowledgably” and confidently about topics they critically misunderstand, and they do not respond graciously to reasoned correction.

Sadly, I just described about 90% of Lakota country right there.

For most of my life, I have expanded my mind through reading. And by reading, I mean with intent to understand, not to reinforce what I already want to be true. If we spend our whole life looking for rationale to justify our beliefs, we can read a mountain of books to build a molehill of insight, and that molehill will become a prison for our mind, regardless of how many people call that molehill a mountain.

My mom used to call me up with shocking news she had conveyed in detail just the day before. She would get mad when I told her you told me that yesterday, and I would laugh, but now that I am starting on the journey to where she was then, I find nothing funny about it.

My mom used to read several books a week, but she got to the point she would nod off after fifteen pages and not recall what she read very well, so would have to read it over, which would make her nod off for another fifteen minutes. This would be happening to me, were it not for five-hour energy drink.

I don’t worry about dementia, because my mom was lucid to the end. But there is no doubt memory plays a huge role in developing and maintaining your mind. My main worry right now is I will write this same column, six months from now, forgetting I wrote this column.


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Remembering what you keep forgetting to remember
James Giago Davies is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. He can be reached at skindiesel@msn.com

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today

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