Battling weak memory — enjoying strong creativity

My Turn - James Wilson

  I have a bad memory. I’ve grown to figure out how to live with this by writing everything down, but it’s still annoying at times. When it comes to short-term memories, no problem, but long-term … forget about it.

  Earlier this week, my co-worker Debra Moore brought in a painting to hang in the newsroom. After she hung it up, I took a look at it and got an overwhelming sense of familiarity.

  Growing up, I used to always hang out with her daughters and was a frequent visitor to her house, so the idea of having seen the painting before isn’t that surprising. As I looked at it closer, though, I noticed something unusual. It was signed by me.

  The funny thing is, this isn’t the first time this has happened. I’ve been over at people’s houses before and noticed other familiar paintings that happened to be mine. I just didn’t remember painting them.

  Back in high school, I used to be real prolific with my art. Nearly every night one could find me out in the makeshift studio outside my parents’ house painting away. Some nights I would even paint multiple pictures.

  Drawing and art have always been a part of my life. I can’t tell you how many papers, tests and other school projects were returned to me with a lower grade due to the little scribbles and cartoons filling every space on the page left over.

  My art has changed throughout the years, in style, medium, genres and reason. As a little kid, I started out scribbling. Eventually I learned how drawn shapes could resemble real-life items and people. Eventually I shot for a more realistic approach, and now I’m back to scribbling essentially.

  The medium has changed multiple times. I started out with crayons and finger paint, just like every other child. As I grew older I moved to pencils, charcoal, oils and watercolors. Then I picked up a guitar.

  Once I began learning guitar I was hooked. I still love to draw and paint, but it’s so much easier sometimes to just pick up my guitar and play. Once I figured out three chords, I started writing songs as well.

  My first song was a two-chord progression titled “I Like Pie.” “I Like Pie” became a big hit around my family and friends. Eventually I wrote other silly songs like “Blind Man Eddy,” “Bacon and Eggs” and “I Like Potatoes.”

  I wrote a few serious songs too, but that wasn’t my strong suit. I found that writing songs gave me that same feeling I used to get when I first started painting.

  When I painted, I would get in the zone. Hours would pass and I wouldn’t even know it. Eventually, for some reason, that changed. I needed some other way to focus on something other than my life, my problems. Guitar filled that void.

  Just like paintings, though, I’ll often hear songs that I’ve written and not remember them. I came across an old recording of a live performance I did years ago. I literally only recognized about half the songs I wrote, played and recorded.

  It’s interesting to me how creativity and memory can be on such polar sides of thought. It kind of makes sense, though. Creativity deals with the new: constructing ideas from nothing. Memory deals with the old: remembering what already took place.

  I like having a creative side to me, but sometimes I wish I had a better memory. Then maybe I could remember what pictures I’ve painted and what songs I’ve written. Oh well. What I don’t remember I can always create.

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