Want to improve your memory?

I read an interesting article in Wired magazine this morning about how to boost your memory and brain power. They talked about a Polish guy named Piotr Wozniak who developed a software called SuperMemo that helps you remember things like vocabulary for a foreign language you’re trying to learn, or any other large body of information you want to commit to long-term memory.

His work has its roots in some research done by a German namedHermann Ebbinghaus who realized that the brain forgets things on a predictable arc over time. If you can practice recalling information at just the right time, you can remember it longer.

According to Wozniak, timing is everything. Try to review teh material too soon and it’s pointless. Try to review it too late and you’ve already forgotten and are simply relearning it. But review it at just the time you’re about to forget it and you’ll reinforce recall over the long-term.

You can find a collection of interesting articles on improving memory on the SuperMemo web site. Now if I could just remember what I was working on when I thought of this blog post…

The Contemplative Pastor

I read something in Eugene Peterson’s book “The Contemplative Pastor” that really hit me like a brick. “How can I lead people into the quiet place beside the still waters if I am in perpetual motion? How can I persuade a person to live by faith and not by works if I have to juggle my schedule constantly to make everything fit into place?” I’ve been really wrestling with the sensation that I am in perpetual motion and most of that motion does not move God’s real purposes forward. Yes, there is accomplishment of tasks, but inwardly there is rarely peace. Reading that question gave words to the anxiety that often pervades my life.

I appreciate Peterson because he is not one of those prolific but shallow writers that puts out a book every year. He writes what he lives. He served as the pastor of a small rural congregation for nearly 30 years with little fame or fanfare. He thinks deeply and writes succintly. You have to listen to people like that. Check out what he wrote just a page before the excerpt above:

“I am busy because I am lazy. I indolently let others decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself. I let people who do not understand the work of the pastor write the agenda for my day’s work because I am too slipshod to write it myself. The pastor is a shadow figure in these people’s minds, a marginal person vaguely connected with matters of God and good will. Anything remotely religious or somehow well-intentioned can be properly assigned to the pastor. Because these assignments to pastoral service are made sincerely, I go along with them. It takes effort to refuse, and besides, there’s always the danger that the refusal will be interpreted as a rebuff, a betrayal of religion, and a calloused disregard for people in need. It was a favorite theme of C.S. Lewis that only lazy people work hard. By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other people do it for us; then we find ourselves frantically, at the last minute, trying to satisfy a half dozen different demands on our time, none of which is essential to our vocation, to stave off the disaster of disappointing someone.”

Wow! Lord, help me stop running to stand still. Help me not to dwell in the land of low-hanging fruit but reach for things that make a difference. Help me to accomplish as much through quiet and contemplation as I do through the rush of activity that fills most of my days.