I’m Losing My Mind

It’s always unnerving to me to forget things I used to know.

This morning, while shaving, I thought about Gilligan’s Island (for some unknown reason) and decided to go through the actors’ names. I haven’t watched the show in about 30 years or so, but I used to watch it a lot as a kid and knew the theme song and the actors’ names. To determine the order, I decided to replay (in my mind) the relevant portion of the theme song:

Gilligan: Bob Denver
the skipper too: Alan Hale Jr.
the millionaire: Jim Backus
and his wife: Natalie Schafer
the movie star: Tina Louise
the professor: Russell Johnson
and Mary Ann: ???? complete blank

I had forgotten the name of the actress who played Mary Ann! I used to know it. I was sure that I could pick it out of a list; but I couldn’t recall it at will.

That was frustrating. The information was in my brain somewhere but I couldn’t get to it easily. I’m a database guy and I tend to think of this kind of thing as being like indexes getting corrupted. I’m sure that the neural structures used with memories are very different from computer database structures, and there are probably many paths to the data that might still be intact if I could figure out how to use them (a hint, perhaps?).

I’m sure you’ll be relieved to know that I did remember her name (Dawn Wells) within a few minutes.

But, as I say, it’s unnerving to think that I can’t remember things that I used to be able to remember. It makes me feel like a different person than I used to be. I know that this is true, in some sense, but I don’t want to lose what I had.

Perhaps my brain is optimizing and using resources on recently used links as opposed to older ones; but I’m not finding very much comfort in that thought.


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