At my college reunion (!!) this past weekend, a classmate I’d not seen in years made two seemingly-unrelated comments that I thought might in fact be closely connected.
Comment 1: “I don’t like these events because I’m just terrible at remembering names and faces.”
Comment 2: “It’s great to have my son here…this way I don’t have to talk to too many people!”
I’m not a natural at remembering names or faces, though I’ve gotten a lot better in recent years. Putting these two comments together, I began to wonder what exactly is going through my head when I meet someone new. How much of my attention am I giving to that person, to what he says and how he looks and acts, and how much am I being distracted by the ongoing chatter in my head?
I know different people are just wired differently – my wife remembers names the way I remember numbers, with no effort at all. But for those of us who have to work at this, I wonder if it’s all a version of that great Gary Larson cartoon – the person is talking, I think I’m listening, but what they say is drowned out by my monkey mind, which is going on about what I’m going to say next or thinking about what they said a minute ago that seemed so interesting.