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Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010

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Exploring the back of your mind


It had been in the back of my mind for a while now. I had to call an old Japanese friend to thank her for a gift she sent me recently. The problem was, I couldn't remember her phone number.

So yesterday, I finally decided to look for it. It was very dark in the back of my mind, and I had stacks of more immediate concerns piled near the frontal cortex. But I pushed all those things aside. I had to get this done.

The mind is a big, big place. I had forgotten how far back the back of my mind really is. From the gray matter in front, I must have walked a couple kilometers. It got darker and darker the further back I got. And smelly! The mind can be very unclean at times. Some memories had definitely soured.

I passed up a door labeled "Short-term Memory" but I knew the phone number wasn't in there. If it was, I wouldn't have to be making this journey in the first place. It was going to take a lot more searching than that. Nor was I going to find it in the room behind the door labeled "Instant Recall."

Continuing on, I eyed "Immediate Past." The telephone number was definitely not in there either. It was stored further back than that. As I walked on, I paused in front of the door that said "Major Life Changes," contemplating going in, just for the fun of it. But I really needed to stay focused. If I lingered here, another day might pass that I hadn't called this friend! I was determined to get this task done so I could cross it off my mental list.

The longer I walked, the darker it got. I could barely make out the room marked "Secrets."

When I came to "University Days" I quickened my pace and, with the same efficiency passed up "High School Days." I'm not even going there, I thought. I may never come back.

When I came upon the "LOL," however, I just had to take a peek. There were people in there rolling on the floor laughing. I recognized them all and joined them on the floor for a while. But I soon knew I had to get up and go. I had a telephone number to find!

I was a bit flummoxed by the door labeled "Lost and Found," until I remembered: If you don't use it, you lose it.

I successfully passed up "Long Ago" and smiled as I passed "Childhood." In the very back, where it was kind of musty, was "Earliest Remembrances." Wow, I had reached the back of my mind! But I still hadn't found that phone number.

Now what? I had nowhere to go — but back. So I back tracked the back of my mind. Half way to the frontal cortex I started noticing rooms I had missed. They were in little lanes off to the sides. I hadn't explored these in a long, long time. One intersection had a sign with an arrow that said, "Warm and Fuzzy." I couldn't resist, and followed it.

I came to a door, but it wasn't a normal door this time. It was a dog door! I jumped through without hesitation. Inside the room, dogs were barking excitedly and licking my face and cats were purring while wrapping themselves around my legs. All the dogs and cats of my past were there! When I heard horses stampeding my way, I left the room knowing I would return someday. Someday when I had a lot more time.

Another lane had an entire section called "Japan-U.S. Flights." Curious, I opened the door just to have a look. The room was full of people I had shared flights with before: The little boy who peed in E-5, the seat I was assigned after him. Next to him sat that woman from three years ago who had farted during the entire 13-hour flight. And next to her was the tattooed, nose-pierced, multiple ear-pierced 18-year-old girl who was clearly disgusted that she was going to have to share her entire row with me. I quickly turned around and left, slamming the door.

But where was the phone number? There must be a whole room full of them, somewhere.

Suddenly, everything became very bright as I realized the problem. How could I be so dumb? I was on the wrong side of the brain!

I quickly found the corpus callosum and crossed over to the left side of the brain. There were some mental blocks inside the corridor, but they were not so hard to remove.

Once I arrived in the left hemisphere, it was just a short walk past "Taxes," "Passwords," and "Japanese Language," and down a lane to "Birthdays" and "Addresses." The telephone number was sitting right there in the middle of the lane, plain as day.

Which goes to show that the phone number wasn't in the back of my mind after all. It was somewhere in the middle.



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