Last night, I dreamed  I had early onset senility.

And today, I can’t remember any details of the dream. Seriously.

That’s actually a true story. I hope that dream isn’t the foreshadowing of a sad future reality.

It makes me think of Josh Foer. He’s an author who immersed himself in the subculture of “memory training” and came away with some interesting insights on memory, insights about building memory skills using aptitudes we all have. He gave a TED talk about his experience, if you’re interested.

I’ll paraphrase a few of his insights for you.

Before the printing press was in wide use, people needed to cultivate their memory. It’s called the “art of memory” refers to techniques invented in ancient Greece, the same ones Cicero used to memorize his speeches and continued to be used by medieval scholars when memorizing entire books.

The “art” is in associating memorable images in your mind that are unusual, colorful, and maybe unlike anything you might ever see. So the idea you’re after will come to you when you recall those whimsical creations in your mind. The skill is as much about creativity as memory.

After the printing press, eventually computers, and now the smartphones in our pockets have chipped away at the need for good recall of memories because our memories can be held externally. The “OK plateau” keeps getting lower and lower.  You reach the “OK plateau” when you’re “good enough” at something to stop the failing/learning cycle that can make you better.

There’s also a connection between memory and the passing of time. We remember events in relation to other events. This year will just resemble the last if you’re not doing things that are unique or different. Peppering your life with interesting experiences is important. It will make your life memorable, and provide texture to the passing of time.