Repost: Does Anyone Know Where I Left My Car Keys?

I’ve been forgetful lately.  I’m talking like, I’ll be in one part of my house, decide that I need something from another room, head to that locale, and as soon as I arrive there, I can no longer recall what I wanted to get.  I know this is a near universal human experience because I’ve had numerous friends, once I’ve told them about this tendency of mine, say, “That happens to me all the time.”

I’m sorry to hear that so many of us are prone to having these sudden moments of confusion.  And it feels like confusion too.  It’s disorienting to lose one’s train of thought so quickly.  Where, by the way, do lost thoughts end up?  Is there some “lost and found” where they all congregate and wait to be reunited with their owner-thinkers? 

I’m certainly getting older, but I don’t think my recurring forgetfulness has anything to do with any sort of physiological problem with my brain.  Writing that prompts me to wonder what, exactly, is the relationship between the very real organ and the ethereal thoughts it produces?  Scientists are certainly able to explain this connection, but I have about as much formal training in the science of thinking as I do in the art of plumbing.

I think my forgetfulness is mostly my fault.  Actually, I spoke too hastily and now want to recant.  It’s the world’s fault instead.  (Passing the buck is always such a cathartic experience, isn’t it?)

It wasn’t that long ago that humans were able to live lives that bore little resemblance to the way we live today.  Of course, we are extremely adaptable animals, so we have adjusted, but in making these adjustments, we have lost something—or a lot.  It’s that something (or a lot) I want to try to identify and discuss. 

In my short lifetime, the world has changed so much.  When I was a child, the planet was less crowded and much quieter.  Where there are fewer people and voices, there is more breathing room and silence.  As the voices grow more plentiful and loud, the demands on our attention multiply.

The world of work has changed too.  People now spend many hours a day living within bureaucratic jungles where hierarchies require lots of paying attention to who’s on top and who’s below.  In such places, there are plenty of predators and the soon-to-be eaten.  This constant need to be wary gets the “fight or flight” juices flowing, and the mind feels perpetually ill at ease and distracted.  At the end of each day, after fighting traffic to get home, there is the need to flush all this away.  Unfortunately, there is no foolproof mental plunger (that I’ve ever been able to find), so all this noise and clutter and fear and waste just sits there, dirtying up the subconscious, making it hard to fall asleep at night.  If one does manage to drift off, daytime fears manifest themselves in all sorts of nightmarish scenarios. 

Is it any wonder that I can’t find where I left my glasses or why I went to the kitchen in the first place?  I wanted to pull a drumstick from the fridge, but then I remembered that my boss had given me a report to write and I had forgotten about it for a few days and am now in jeopardy of turning it in late.  I guess this means I might have to set my alarm extra early tomorrow morning. 

I notice that I’m standing in the kitchen, facing the fridge, even as I wonder how much time I’m going to need to get that thing written.  I don’t want to leave until I remember what brought me here.  My stomach growls and I’m reminded, oh yes, I was hungry, wasn’t it, and I wanted to get my hands on a piece of cold chicken, didn’t I? 

If this ain’t life as we currently live it, then I’m a monkey’s uncle. 

That’s why so many of us are planning our great escapes from ALL THIS.  I’ve got my plan in mind and frequently discuss it with my wife.  One day, we’re going to get all our ducks in a row and then, suddenly, you’ll notice that we’re gone. 

32 thoughts on “Repost: Does Anyone Know Where I Left My Car Keys?

  1. I enjoyed reading this post, Troy and relate so much to all your points. Pinpointed in well-written words and mixed with a great dose of humour.
    All the bureaucracy and formality that many times goes against my willingness to trust people. IF that makes any sense?

  2. The World is constantly evolving . Even gen z right now is being outdone by gen ” i don’t know what”. Younger generation are now looking for more sustainable jobs which make them happier and not those stressful jobs our parents were used to. And for your keys, have u checked under your sofa??😅😅😅 . Good article by te way. Thx

    1. One of the few benefits of being older is that I’m now past that period when I am trying to grow my professional “reputation.” All that sort of struggle is now (thankfully) behind me. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Ah, getting older means we gather more cobwebs in our brains doesn’t it?! I watch and listen to my 16 year old grandchildren, and remember how I was the same way at their age, thinking that I’d be different than the generations before me and not get weighed down or broken by life, and then a few decades later I look at myself and realize I accumulated just as many cobwebs as the people who went before me. Those cobwebs stop us from thinking or remembering clearly!

    Best wishes for your future retirement plans!

  4. When I was a wee young boy, l imagined my brain was filled with tiny drawers. The kind libraries used to store 3”x 4” index cards telling me the book I wanted was at location 3.11. ( I’ll leave the number reference for the gen? to think on). Oh yeah where was I? Anyway nowadays it seems like the labels have all fallen off those drawers.

    1. It’s only old guys like us who even remember those little cabinets and drawers filled with the index cards you’re referring to. That’s a cool image by the way! Thanks for the comment.

  5. I think you’re right about the need to “flush it all away”- but what a sad staothat is about modern life.

    1. Hey, Todd. It’s Saturday and I’m physically and mentally tired after a week of concentration and effort. It is sad how even when I have “free time” I need it to recover from those days that came before this one. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      1. Soon at least you’ll be able to recover while watching Vikings football 😎

  6. It gets worse—sometimes I forget what I’m doing right in the middle of doing it. Maybe those lost thoughts land in the same place as the socks that mysteriously disappear fro the dryer. My antidote for remembering why I am standing in a room I-know-not-why is to turn around and return to the place where I started and retrace my steps. The lost memory invariably returns. I don’t think it’s a side effect of aging, I think it’s more a matter of having so much going on in our heads that it’s all beginning to leak out our ears. At least that’s the story I tell myself.

    1. I try that trick myself sometimes–the one where I retrace my steps. It works sometimes, but not always. I truly mean it when I say it’s the world’s fault. Things have gotten too complex, too intense. I’d love to be able to withdraw from the world, and I will do some of that once I retire. Thanks for the comment.

  7. This is so relatable, Troy! When my kids were small, they used to call me out on my forgetfulness all the time. I used to tell them “My brain is so cluttered between trying to remember all my stuff, and all your stuff, too. One day, you’ll see what I mean!”

    1. There’s too much stuff to remember, isn’t there? And too many things that need tending to! If I were starting over again, I think I’d live the life of a monk and withdraw from the world. I really mean that. Do your kids now understand what you were trying to tell them all those years ago? Thanks!

  8. I was talking to class the other day, turned around to put something on the board, and it had gone … a bit embarrassing in front of a new class but we got there

    1. You’re probably the only one who noticed that. We often think that others notice all our little mishaps, but they are mostly not paying attention because they are too preoccupied in the same ways we are. Thanks for sharing your teaching story. I’ve got lots of those too.

  9. Relatable post! Happy to report that if I stay with it for a few seconds, I can retrace my steps and figure out why I’m standing there “in front of the frig.” Worse case is I return to where I started and usually get the answer I’m looking for. If I don’t, I know it’s time to simplify my life by saying ‘no’ to demands on my time and mind that aren’t absolutely necessary. So, I might turn off the tv, stop watching or reading the daily news for a while. I might get out in nature more, exercise more, do something creative, etc. It definitely helps!

    1. Your “saying no” suggestion is so great. Thanks for reminding me. I often have to remind myself to simplify, to downsize, to focus more. Actually, all your suggestions are fantastic. Thanks so much for providing such wonderful reminders.

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