Betsy's Column

Use it or Lose it; Lose What?

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I’ve been a fan of the Indigo Girls for about as long as there have been Indigo Girls, so I was real happy to have them stop in OUR town last weekend for a show. I remember setting out on a drive to Dodge City, Kansas, for a grandparent visit late one night when the kids were very little, and as we drove through Denver, we saw on a marquee that the Indigo Girls were playing that night. I remember thinking about it all the way to Kansas, wishing I could have seen them.

As the years went by, I managed to see them a couple of times, once in Denver and once in Vail, and like the show in Palisade last Saturday, I was always entertained and went home in a happy mood. I’m always amazed when a song will come over the car radio that I haven’t heard for years or decades, and suddenly I’m singing along, with all the words to all the verses.

Where does that kind of memory come from? I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night, and don’t even ask me to recall someone’s name until I have ‘met’ them two or three times.

Lyrics are a different story, it seems. What kind of power do song lyrics have over the brain? I was listening to some type of choral group not too long ago and found that I could sing along with ALL the verses of America the Beautiful. I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen or sung the extra verses since grade school music class.

So why can’t I remember where I put the extra $20 bill that I stashed for ‘emergency use only?’ I know that I thought at the time “What a safe place!” Well, it sure was, I haven’t been able to spend it yet.

But, I digress…at one point in my kids’ lives, I decided to give myself permission not to automatically know how old each one of them was at any particular time. I decided that all I was really responsible for was remembering their dates of birth, DOBs, in legalese. That is really the only information required on any type of insurance or medical application, and I’m finally okay with that. After all, I checked peoples’ IDs at a bar for years, I should be able to figure out an age quickly from a DOB, so I can usually tell you how old my kids are after only a slight delay for calculation.

But when it comes to the song lyrics, I just don’t know why they have such a hold over what must be a large part of my storage capacity up there. I can truly remember so many song lyrics that I can’t believe there are that many songs…I just can’t figure out how they took priority over more useful information in the storage bank.

And on the subject of storing useless information, here’s another example. After just a few months in the circulation department at the Daily Sentinel, I have thrown enough paper routes for absent carriers that I actually drive through some parts of town now while noting subconsciously which of the houses I’m passing should be thrown a newspaper in the morning. Since we take a written copy of each route with us in the car to throw the papers, this subconscious memorizing of the route is also taking up valuable (?) brain space, but I can’t seem to stop. I just don’t get it.

Now that we have ‘speed-dial’ on our telephones, we don’t even have to remember phone numbers. As a matter of fact, now I can barely remember the ONE-DIGIT speed-dial number I have assigned to people. I have to wonder about the phrase ‘use it or lose it, ’ because we come right back to the song lyrics, I haven’t sung Johnny Horton’s ‘Battle of New Orleans’ for at least forty years, but I still know all the words… But how many times will I come home from Foodtown, only to realize that I forgot the one thing that I had originally gone there for? Good thing it isn’t far away!

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Formerly the manager of the Palisade Tribune, Betsy moved to Palisade in 2009 after spending almost 35 years in Breckenridge. She has three grown kids, two in Colorado and one in Idaho. A die-hard Palisade booster, Betsy is also a big fan of the Palisade High School Bulldogs.

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