You know those ideas and thoughts you have which disappear into the great void of forgetfulness?
Not the ones which happen to get lost on the way up the stairs or from one room into another; the ones when you meant to fetch something, do something, and by the time you got wherever it is you wanted to fetch it from or do it, the whole thing has vanished, and you have to start all over again.
Nor the names of books, films and plays you are just about to throw nonchalantly into the conversation when you find your mind a sudden blank and your face red with embarrassment.
Nor the appointments you miss because you forgot to transfer dates from one diary into another.
Nor when you find you have forgotten the name of the person coming towards you with outstretched hands, beaming with pleasure and loudly greeting you by name.
Nor when you forget the names of people in your own family and you recite them all, male and female interchangeable, all the way through, until the final name you utter is the one of the child/aunt/uncle/other grinning delightedly at your discomfort. My dad was particularly good at that; we used to let him work through the list and congratulate him when he finally matched name to person.
No, none of the above.
I am talking about the really good ideas, the clever ones, the insightful, creative ones. Like when you have a brilliant idea for a blog post. Or, if you are of a slightly higher order on the literary scale, an idea for a short story, say. Or at work, a problem which has irritated or confused you for many months, and suddenly, you have that light bulb moment, and there’s the solution, as plain as the nose on your face. Or maybe you have a really insightful thought, one of those that should be anthologised, an aphorism destined to be forever repeated by bloggers given to filling their posts with quotations.
I am sure you know the sort of thing I mean.
If you do, and are the person who experiences a flash of brilliance, I advise you to write it down there and then. Somebody, something will interrupt your train of thought and the solution to all the evils of the world will have disappeared for ever. Einstein/Shakespeare/Beethoven never allowed a mere mortal to disturb the creative muse, that’s for sure.
But now I finally come to the point of this post (the idea for which I’ve nicked from PerlNumquist at his blog Mental Floss) : what happens to that collection of bright thoughts which appear like shooting stars across the night sky, only to disappear as quickly? Where do they go?
Everything on our planet is recycled.
Is there a bottomless pit in the brain where they collect, become a kind of primordial compost heap of thoughts which rots down over the years, only to be recycled as manure for new growth?
Is it possible that ‘wisdom comes with age’ is nothing more than absent-mindedness during middle age?