Published: May 26, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: May 26, 2012 09:34 AM
To a packed audience April 18, Gilbert P. Sherr, “The Memory Man,” entertained and instructed Chapel Hill residents as well as members of The Cedars of Chapel Hill, a continuing care retirement community.
In his introduction, Bob Woodruff, president of The Cedars, challenged the audience to “have some fun, laughter and enlightenment.” And that’s exactly what Gilbert provided in his interactive presentation.
In his youth, Gilbert’s father would allow him to control the family’s store cash register only after he could calculate numbers in his head: add, subtract, divide and multiply without benefit of paper and pencil. At that time, there were no calculators or machines to tally change; so his memory training began early in life.
For the past 20 years, with the influence of yoga, meditation and other self-help disciplines, Gilbert has presented programs to VA hospitals, more than 180 retirement centers and community college enrichment classes. He learned his speaking skills from the National Speaker’s Association.
After warming up the audience with a few funny questions, such as “how old we were – 40? (much laughter) 60? 70?” he continued that there are three principles that would be helpful in “training, not straining one’s memory.” They are:
• Imagination (key to the process).
As an example of Visualization, nine numbers were listed to coordinate with items the audience chose to buy at the grocery store: for example 84-cereal, 86-water, etc. This was to prove that the mind works in pictures, not in words.
In listening to the radio years ago, we imagined the overstuffed closet of “Fibber McGee and Molly.” Now, television interprets everything for the viewer, diminishing our imagination.
Gilbert then called for a “stretch” and the re-invigorated audience sat down. At that point, someone from the audience asked him to repeat the grocery list with corresponding numbers and not too surprisingly, he sailed through them. Surely, he could have said them backwards, but no one asked.
The second exercise combining Association and Imagination called for the audience to remember 13 items (without writing them down), beginning with river and including pencil, George, Marilyn Monroe.....and ending with Rhode Island red hen. They were, in fact, all clues to remembering the original13 colonies.
Interestingly, since this lecture occurred, at every dinner and lunch this writer’s attended for the past week, the 13 colony exercise has stimulated the most animated table conversation. In leaving the ballroom that day, there were many smiles and perhaps for some, a new strategy for improving one’s memory.
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