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April 1, 2024 6 mins

When you know something by heart, you know it for good

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Before Breakfast, a production of iHeartRadio. Good Morning.
This is Laura. Welcome to the Before Breakfast podcast. Today's
tip is to memorize something that is worth memorizing. Committing
a meaningful passage or poem to memory will help you

appreciate it more and make it accessible to you at
any point. Education has obviously changed a lot over the
past one hundred and fifty years. Kids used to need
to do a lot of memorization. I always enjoyed the
scenes from the Laura Ingalls Wilder books of her at

about age fifteen memorizing a long passage about history and
reciting it for the townspeople. I know that my parents
growing up had to memorize the Heidelberg Catechism as part
of their religious studies. We do a lot less memorizing
these days, which in some cases makes sense. We have

the technology to call up just about anything anywhere, at
any time. But even if we don't need it as much,
the human memory is truly an amazing thing. You might
think you don't know many things from memory, but if
I played the opening chords of a top rated song

from some random year you were in high school, there
is a high probability that you could sing most of
the lyrics. I'm also guessing you know a great many
Christmas carols by heart. Those tend to be songs people
sing repeatedly. When you know something by heart, it is
more accessible no matter the circumstances. You don't need to

rely on notes, or internet access or anything else. That's
why I committed the various versions of my time management
speech to memory. If I'm there, the speech can happen,
whatever the screen situation, whatever the room looks like, whether
there's a podium, if the power goes out, if my

laptop died two seconds before, it's not a problem. When
my family gathered for Christmas this year, we could just
stand around the kitchen singing carols. No need to hunt
for songbooks or anything else. That is the beauty of
knowing things by heart. So why not try memorizing something

worth memorizing. You'll get to know these words better and
stretch your brain in a new way. If you follow
a particular religion, there are no doubts sacred passages associated
with that faith. Why not choose one that speaks to
you and aim to be able to recite it. You

could also try a poem. Visit the Poetry Foundation's website
and find a reasonably short one that feels special to you.
Or you could watch YouTube clips from poetry slams and
see which poems people tend to perform over and over again.
Those might go well with memorizing. Or you might choose

to memorize something just because it's fun. I memorized a
few stanzas of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven years ago
because his word play is just fantastic. Once upon a midnight, dreary,
while I pondered, weak and weary over many a quaint
and curious volume of forgotten lore, The internal rhyming scheme

keeps the beat moving along. There are lots of strategies
for memorizing things, but generally you need to read it
over many times and then check if you can recite
parts of it. You will have to check to remind
yourself if you were accurate. Eventually you'll remember certain words
that begin a phrase, and then the phrase itself tends

to make internal sense, so that part will be easier.
Sometimes people make lists of the first words of phrases,
or even just the first letters to jog their memory.
Then eventually you just practice enough and it feels easier.
The more time you give yourself, the more clear it
will all be. The good news is that if you

have things memorized, you can always entertain yourself no matter
the circumstances, or you could entertain others if you are
suddenly called upon to perform in a talent show. Now, granted,
that is not likely to happen, but there is something
fun about a challenge. Our brains could probably use some

more exercise. Memorizing isn't easy, but it is also something
that the vast majority of people could do if they try,
So why not memorize something worth memorizing. What you memorize
is always with you, and if you choose well, you

can make your internal brain landscape feel a lot more rich.
In the meantime, this is Laura. Thanks for listening, and
here's to making the most of our time. Thanks for

listening to Before Breakfast. If you've got questions, ideas, or feedback,
you can reach me at Laura at Laura vandercam dot com.
Before Breakfast is a production of iHeartMedia. For more podcasts
from iHeartMedia, please visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcast Tasks

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Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

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