W.B. Yeats, 1932

W.B. Yeats, 1932

A Case for Minding Your Memory

At Seymour, we’re as likely to let things slip as the next person, and so we like to remind ourselves of the importance of keeping the mind sharp. After all, the mind is like a muscle; the more you exercise it the more likely it is to become stronger, but at the same time it can atrophy and become sluggish from lack of use. Particularly in our techno-centric society, it’s easy to let our smartphones and computers do the thinking for us, letting the fantastic gift of the mind go to waste.

There are, however, lots of ways to get your neurons firing to maximum capacity, each with their own nuanced benefits. One way is by pushing your memory to its limit; this can be done many ways such as memorising a poem or even just a few lines from your favourite film speech. Not only is this good for your grey matter, but it can also deepen your appreciation and understanding of the lines you’re memorising.

I was once told that in Hindu culture students are made to memorise their mantras in the presence of a priest, so that it can be assured that the student understands the true depth and meaning of the words. Only once the priest is sure of the student’s understanding are they encouraged to recite the mantras by themselves.

Likewise, the best actors don’t simply parrot their lines, but take the time to consider the impact and gravity of everything single word and syllable, thus ensuring they can deliver to their audience the true essence of the words.

Seymour’s founder Melissa Unger told me that 30 years ago while in college she memorised the entirety of W.B. Yeats’ poem ‘The Second Coming’, and to this day she can still recite it (feel free to test her on it next time you see her!). Imagine how far those words and that sensation had to burrow in order to survive that long, and imagine how much the meaning of those words has changed over the years.

We’d like to encourage you to do the same thing. Pick up one of your favourite books, skim through it until you find a passage that really appeals to you and set about memorising a line, sentence, paragraph, or even page. Push your memory and mind, don’t give up until you’ve nailed it. It might take hours, days, or even weeks but it’ll be worth it. You never know when it might pop out of the subconscious in many years to come and surprise you.


Will Kitson 2014



Published: November 11th, 2014

Previous in this series:

A Case for Young Prometheans

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