I’m an old man, and like many of ‘the elderly‘ I’m forgetful – both of long past things and even what I experienced yesterday. Tricks – e.g. association – help recall forgotten places, companies, events and (most worrisome) peoples’ names. That’s common; of course I’m ‘not alone’. Here’s a typical dumb question. I asked my son what hospital J is in. He answered cheerfully, ‘She’s doing OK with the thrombosis, but therapy is helping. I think you saw her 2 nights ago when the gang came to visit.’
I’d like to know why I ask dumb and leading questions. I often test myself for short term memory loss which scares me. I picture getting senile, like Dad, or having Parkinson’s. On a lighter note, I recall Bert, a friend of my family when I was adolescent. We were at a July 4th community picnic. Bert asked, “What’s What’s-his-Name’s name?” You see, I don’t forget everything; mainly what I worry over.
I had a top tier education in a private church school, for which I’m grateful. Still I’d like to be up on what’s up, to look sharp and to be cool. For some reason I ask leading, not straight questions, whether texting in SMS, MMS, Google searching, Google Translating, and especially during face to face conversations with family and friends. Maybe Atelophobia as described by Cleveland Clinic explains it. If so, how to stop it!
As usual I try to find deep explanations of what I study and experience. Needless to say, my experience may be flawed; it’s certainly limited. I tend to doubt claims that something ‘is obvious’. For example, I often asked students whether we control our names. (In this era of LGBTQ+ that’s a touchy topic I never needed to worry about.) They said ‘Of course!’ I said ‘No, not if no one will call you that’. Names are social, not personal, unless we fantasize when we’re alone. Philosophers are apt to get lost in their intellectual minds – to ‘over think’ many things and miss practical solutions. Add to that my (unproven) belief that the truest answers come from our innermost selves, and in the end from the ultimate source of everything – Divine Love and Wisdom – the All of All.
How to change these troublesome habits of thought is partly a question for professional psychology. Being prone to depression, I’ve been in and out of psychotherapy perhaps a dozen times in adulthood. (Mother said she considered it for me at age 11.) In addition, I’ve known many other psychotherapists, and studied a lot of psychology, with its dozens – perhaps hundreds – of approaches.
Anti-anxiety meds can be helpful too. But considering where I come from, and where I hope to go, it’s less a question of meds or psychotherapy and more a question of ‘let go and let God’. Or better said by Reinhold Niebuhr, ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’ We’re all truly “in Good Hands” – not those of Allstate which managed to co-opt that thought from religion, and Trademark it 50 years ago!