Memory Update

I talked before about practicing creativity while learning a handy trick for memorising numbers. Those of you who follow my Twitter know that the first time I tried this for 27 numbers between 0-26, I recalled them with 74% accuracy. Better than without using this technique, but hardly a success – that’s one error every four numbers.

But I’ve been practicing. I bumped the amount of numbers I memorise up to 30 – not a huge increase, just enough to get it to a nice, round number. My range has more than doubled – I now can memorise numbers between zero and 60.

My accuracy is through the roof.

I’ve yet to have a perfect run. I have this tendency to make simple mistakes. But I’m routinely scoring 98% accuracy – an error of just one or two digits out of 30 two-digit numbers.

Obviously, I still have a lot of work to do. My accuracy needs to reach 100%. I need to finish committing my system to memory – it’s only useful if I can remember all numbers, not just those up to 60. And memory enthusiasts are probably laughing at my paltry 30 number capacity. They’d also think my speed is ridiculous. Still, it’s not bad for maybe 20 minutes a day, most days of the week.

Learning this new skill has reintroduced me to something wonderful that happens when practicing. My abilities rose quickly, at first. I’d increase the range by five or ten per day and my accuracy was trending upwards. It was fun. But then I hit a wall. It was a struggle to visualise my subjects verbing my objects. It was even harder recalling them later. I could feel my mind working hard whenever it needed to translate an image to a number, or vice versa.

Then one day, it felt good. It felt right. I could feel it deep within my body. The images popped into my head bright and clear. My memory palace was vivid, intense. Real. I could smell the grass, the dust and the pot pourri. I could hear the floorboards squeak beneath my feet. I was fast and precise.

The process was a pure joy.

I didn’t score perfectly that day. When I was translating the images back into numbers I made a simple mistake – I paired the right image with the wrong number. But I was faster and more accurate than ever.

There’s no thrill like when your abilities leap forward.

Now I know how PCs feel when they level up.

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