I have a fantastic memory for some things but am totally hopeless with others and this frustrates me. I’m great at music trivia but somehow get lost with movie quotes. I’m awful at languages but pretty good at maths. I know how to fix names to faces and put them into my long-term memory but I struggle remembering what day of the week it is. I have a visual memory so this helps with shapes and patterns but I’m lost with remembering what I’m told over the phone.
I’ve learned to improve my memory through location and mapping. If I can place a face in the place where I first saw it then I have a chance of connecting it to a situation or a social setting and then I can retrieve the name. Other things I have to cheat with. I make simple notes when on the phone or I use music and visuals to place markers in my brain.
We all do it. A particular song comes on the radio and we’re instantly thrown back to a family wedding or a memorable holiday. Well I do it the other way around too and deliberately place music at particular scenes so that I can recall them in the future. I remember artwork that I’ve created by particular music I’ve listened to at the time. My Small Worlds collection was mostly thanks to Bud Powell but a lot of my more recent work is thanks to Planet Rock.
I rarely listen to music when I take the photograph though there are exceptions. and again, I can deliberately connect collections of photographs to music. In my mind I’ve secured beach photographs in the winter to Ennio Moricone and cloud pictures to Pražský Výběr. This partnership in my mind makes it easy to recall stuff from my back catalogue of images when I need it.
I’m now trying to apply some similar memory techniques to conquer some of my memory failings. For example, I’m trying to attach language to image and location by learning Spanish via an app on my phone whilst only being at train stations. I’m not sure it will work…
Does any of this sound normal, or is this just me?