I read recently that the average human being uses less than 10% of his/her brain’s potential, and needs constant stimulation in order to even stay at that low level. I’m not one for Sudoko or other types of games designed to strengthen the cerebral muscle, but my vocation apparently does keep it well toned (well enough to notice that by the end of summer leave I’m much less inclined to use fancy words and phrases, like: “responsible discernment” and “sustainable visionary fiscal planning”.
During the church year I do a lot of reading and meet a lot of people whose names and stories I strive to remember. At any given moment, while scanning supermarket shelves for example, I’ll be making connections between a poem I half-remember and a quote I once heard, a sermon I’ve been meaning to write, a friend I need to call, an obscure Reformation-era heretic, the fact that the dogs need a bath, how much I love trail-mix and hate that I can never remember my passwords.
In between all of that I’ll get visual memory flashes of the cemetery I played in as a child, an unexpected smile someone flashed in my direction while I was stopped at a red light, and a favorite sweater I haven’t seen lately. Generally I leave the supermarket with something like soft-white lightbulbs, instead of the eggs and gluten-free cereal I came in for.
There’s so much to think about, so much to remember.
In order to maintain a greater sense of control over those things I really do have to remember from day to day, I make lists ensuring that I move the car on Wednesdays so I won’t get another ticket, make that appointment with the dentist, and remember to bring the piñata to church for Sunday’s children’s lesson on “sin”. With these coping mechanisms in place I end up being fairly efficiently, surprising myself (and often others) with how much I manage to get done from day to day and week to week!
But there’s more to life than remembering to do those things that bring the satisfaction of efficiency, isn’t there? There are other things to remember: like breathing deeply; noticing beauty; relishing relationships; and trusting one’s inner knowing. Somehow those things always ended up on the bottom of those lists, displaced by more “urgent” matters.
Until, that is, I entered them in my cellphone calendar. Now, every day at 9 am, the phone chimes and reminds me to “breathe deeply”. At 11 it let’s me know that I am “held in love”, and at 3 it reminds me that “now is the time to celebrate joy”.
Each time I hear that chime while in the midst of the day’s busy-ness, I reach for the phone expecting a new email message to which I have to respond. And each time I am surprised anew to find something different – a call to presence and joy.