You know that feeling when you open your mouth to say something and nothing comes out because suddenly nothing is there? It’s like you were there with a friend and you turn around to introduce them to someone but they’re gone. You look for them in every closet and drawer and even peep under the bed. But, nope! Not there. Where did that thought go? And how is it that your mind can even remember that you wanted to say something but now you can’t remember what that thing was? How is that possible? Where did it go? Sometimes you can almost touch it…..almost taste it on the tip of your tongue……but try as you might there is no summoning it up.
It happens to everyone, I’m pretty sure. And age has nothing to do with it. I can remember forgetting a thing I wanted to say even as a child. My gramma used to say, “Well, it must have been a lie” which was some old “saying” but it made me quite upset. In the first place telling a lie was a BIG no-no in our family so it was important to me that my gramma not think I would ever not tell the truth. I would staunchly refute her statement but she would just chuckle – which made me even more upset because I felt that she didn’t take me seriously. I would then try with all my might to remember whatever it was I wanted to say but invariably I could never recall it – which I found beyond frustrating and onto infuriating!
And don’t you just love it when the thing you had wanted to say but forgot pops back into your head hours or even days later? When you don’t need to know it? Of course, there have been times when this happened to me and I’ve wanted to call whoever it was I was talking to and tell them whatever it was I had wanted to say – never mind that it was now totally irrelevant or it’s in the dead of night when everyone is sleeping and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want to be awakened from a sound sleep to hear my pearl of wisdom.
And those times when you go striding confidently into a room and realize you have no idea in the world of why you wanted to be in this particular room in the first place? It’s as if you just got smacked in the head with a big stick and WHOP! you forgot. Sometimes you can go back where you started and POP! there it is again – that thought that had hidden itself has reappeared. Sometimes it doesn’t come back for a long while…… sometimes a long, long while….but eventually it nudges its way back into consciousness. But in that interim where does that thought go?
I have imagined that those thoughts evaporate right into the ethers floating around my head and through the magic of condensation they appear again. I have also imagined those little miscreants hiding in the maze that must be my mind while I run down hallways and peek around corners looking for them hiding there, giggling and waiting until they are good and ready to be seen and not one minute before. Or maybe they get sucked out by some giant vacuum attached to one of those black holes in outer space. Or just maybe an industrious and invisible alien invaded my brain and while picking through it decided to put that particular thought into her microscope for investigation. After looking at it good and hard and, deciding it wasn’t worth her time, dropped it back in at some later date. Then again, I can’t imagine a single one of the thoughts I’ve ever lost worth an alien’s time. I suspect they have better things to do than poke around in my little brain.
I’ve read that when we lose those thoughts it’s because we were multitasking prior to that moment. So in that case they are simply buried underneath a mound of laundry – my laundry lists of things to do. What those professionals fail to tell us is how to uncover them.
The most frustrating kind of forgetfulness to me is when I’m yammering away about a certain thing and in the middle of my soliloquy I find myself at a loss for a single word – just one single word. It’s like reading a sentence with one word redacted in bold black. Gone. Poof. I stop in mid sentence to search for the word but nope! Not there. It’s not a multisyllabic word used by a vocabularian – for a sesquipedalian I am certainly not – no, it’s a normal word snatched right out of my regular vocabulary leaving me stuck, slightly embarrassed, and feeling a little stupid. Sometimes I can even describe the errant word enough for the (now bored) listener to be able to guess it – in a sort of backwards dictionary game. I am always pleased to have it returned but by then I’ve lost the whole gist of what I was saying – which may or may not have had any value. The only good news in this phenomenon is that it has a name. Lethologica. And I read that lethologica appears to have become more common since we have emerged from COVID and folks have increased their socialization. Shrug. I was experiencing this way before COVID so I can’t blame my lapses on that. But I am glad to know there is a word for my occasional word loss. Although whether or not I will ever be able to recall it is the whole point, right? The next time I open my mouth and the next word won’t come out – but it’s just right there on the tip of my tongue I can comfort myself with knowing I’m just experiencing lethologica. Yeah!