Having celebrated yet another birthday last week, I must confess I am finding myself increasingly forgetful. It happens frequently enough that it has become a joke in our house - albeit one I don't always find amusing... I could blame "mommy brain" or my vata dosha. I could point to the frenzy of preparing for a seventeen day stretch of travel with a toddler or the wide ranging array of details floating around in my head at any given moment. I could acknowledge that I am not getting any younger. But the underlying cause doesn't change the reality: If I don't write something down - whether an observation, appointment time, or song I want to add to an upcoming class playlist - the information could very well be lost forever.
This experience is extraordinarily frustrating for someone who used to take for granted her ability to recall every element of every dish in a 24 course tasting menu years after the fact - or recite entire Shakespeare soliloquys - or remember the winners of every major Academy Award category for the past 20 years. I have begun to feel rather self-conscious about this development - fearing I will be judged dimwitted, or inattentive, or worse. I think often of a sentiment shared by a dear family friend well into the third act of her life: "You should have known me back when I was smart!"
But if I reflect honestly on the former me who seemingly had all the facts of the world at her disposal, I also recognize her impatience. I feel her annoyance when a colleague paused to recall a relevant fact or stopped to select just the right word to convey an idea. I see her roll her eyes (inwardly, of course) when a well-meaning family friend would ask, "How old are you now?" I hear her sigh (not always inwardly) when interrupted mid-conversation and asked to repeat an answer or anecdote. And it occurs to me, as bright as that girl may have been, she isn't someone I would choose to be around today.
Rather than longing for the razor-sharp young lady I was, I am learning to embrace the more forgetful, more forgiving woman I am becoming. I am daring to ask a question rather than pretending I remember the answer. I am realizing that asking someone to repeat something is not the end of the world. I am letting go of the fear of being judged and focusing instead on accepting where I am today.
Perhaps your mind is a steel trap and you have no concern about the foibles of your memory. But it is a rare individual who doesn't have some insecurity or weakness they try to mitigate and/or conceal from others. Next time you find yourself mapping out a coping strategy or retreating before your flaw (real or imagined) is discovered, try looking at what you have gained by losing. Embracing your vulnerability may be exactly what you need to grow.