Short Memory

This will not be a post to forget.

I am a rabid sports fan.  As soon as I was old enough to vaguely understand football, my happiness each Monday depended on how the Broncos did on Sunday.  I even wore Broncos gear when composing music with my brother.

This will be bigger than the Beatles.

Interestingly (an arrogant phrase, isn’t it? What a brilliant writer I am!), the Broncos have only won the Super Bowl when they’ve had a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback.  Turns out that’s true for most teams if you think about it.  And in the pass happy modern NFL, it’s hard to win one without two shutdown cornerbacks as well – they are often on the proverbial island at the most critical points in any game.

What does this have to do with memory?  I’m not done yet!

Fast forward from the dashing young prodigy above to adulthood (don’t worry, we’ll have plenty of time for me to tell you all the effed up things that happened in between).  I have spent a fair chunk of my adult life playing goalie in ice hockey.  People are often impressed with that (until they see me actually play – see the picture below).  A common theme is “wow, how can you let people hit you with slap shots” – but the truth is, there is a lot of padding to deal with that.  Goalie is much more challenging to the mind than to the body.

Note the unideal position of the puck relative to the goalie. The team never recovered.

What does this have to do with memory?  I’m not done yet!

I am a fairly decent Colorado Rockies fan, though I’m not as much into baseball as I am into football and hockey.  I will watch high school versions of the latter two if I flip to it while channel surfing.  But baseball is more about the ballpark than the game for me.  I have precisely one signed item from the Rockies – a picture of Huston Street from the late 2000’s.  He was the Rockies’ closer the year in their last playoff appearance before 2018 – and he blew the save that ended their season.  But I always admired the way he didn’t shy away in the postgame interviews.  Closers have to deal with a lot of the same mental hurdles as hockey goalies.

In fact, goalies, quarterbacks, cornerbacks, and closers all share one common trait if they are successful:  they all must have a short memory.  If you give up a goal, a pick six, a long TD pass, or a home run in the ninth, you have to forget about it and move on to the next task at hand.  In those specific cases, there is no skill quite as important as having a short memory.

You would think, then, that having a short memory is a rare trait, limited to the elite of the elite.  Interestingly (there I go again), it is not.

I have, probably in the last 24 hours, been driving somewhere, and cursed at the malevolent force that is sitting in my blind spot, preventing me from executing my carefully prepared automotive itinerary and causing me to miss my acceptance of a Nobel Prize.  I have also, in those same 24 hours, been the malevolent force.

I could unleash a slew of other examples, and I could even move them into the realm of the political, but let’s face it – I don’t have to.  You probably need not look far in your life to find a moment where you conveniently (even if not consciously) forgot what it was like to be “the person in the other car”.  Cars make it even worse, of course, because we see the car first, which detaches us from its occupants and makes it easier for us to start getting angry instead of understanding what they’re doing.  The Internet serves a similar purpose.

This also ties back a bit to the inaugural post here about perspective.  Sometimes we don’t even remember we were once standing where the other person stands now.

So let’s recap the trilogy of posts that have ushered this blog into cyberspace:

  1. There are other points of view out there besides the two that have been prescribed for us by our completely polarized political machinery.
  2. A meaningful discussion of any meaningful issue cannot occur within the confines of a meme, a tweet, or a political TV ad.
  3. Leave all high horses at the door, because none of us are innocent of the things we hate to have done or said to us.

That’s probably enough setup.  The next entry will start getting into juicier discussions.  Bring a napkin.  And don’t forget.


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