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Rap fo memoryMy memory, man. It ain’t what it used to be. I got 46 years on this organic memory card. A lot of studies out there tell me to do boring shit to improve it. But if I do, will I gain memory and lose my fire? Not goin’ for that. Enter Macklemore.

So, I’m driving to Des Moines to meet a guy who’s selling me a bike. (Not Macklemore!) It’s two-and-a-half hours road time. I often listen to an audio book on trips like this, but I was too excited about that damn bike. I’m pumpin’ tunes in the family Explorer, sporting my favorite sunglasses, feeling it all. Feeling it all, man!

The moment is perfect when Arrows by Fences comes on, featuring Macklemore.

I start to sing along, with, you know, the regular music-y part, and then Macklemore hits it, and I keep singing and trying to put together what he’s saying and I can’t even sputter one word in 20 and I’m all, “What the fuck, Macklemore?!? How many words can you get into a 30-second rap?”

So, ding! Idea so bright! I love this rap. I used this song on the playlist for the last Amped Yoga Project I held. (Disclaimer #17: I realize right now I am stetting myself up for copyright infringement all over the place here, but Fences and Macklemore, seriously, only, like 20 people in the middle of Iowa heard it. And come on, who’s gonna watch this video of a 46-year-old woman trying to keep up with a rap? Oh – and here’s some major traffic for you: Arrows by Fences feat. Macklemore official video.)

So the best part of me says to myself, “Why not learn this rap? Why not?

So the best part of me says to myself, “Why not learn this rap? Why not?” So, I start. Play, rewind. Play, rewind. It’s not much different from what I do with my yoga friends in call-and-response chanting of Sanskrit mantras. You have no clue what these words or sounds are, your brain just slowly starts to put them together. And man, Macklemore sure coulda been using Sanskrit from what I picked up on my first few listens. But, I keep at this for 35 minutes. And my brain is fried. It’s so spent I can’t even send clear signals that should move my mouth. So, I rest. Jam some other tunes. And eventually, pick up a dream bike for my kid in Des Moines.

Then, I’m driving back. I try the rap again. I totally suck! It takes me five minutes just to retrieve the whole rap from the organic memory card, things loading soooooo slow, then I’m back at it – play, rewind, play rewind. I’m now losing my voice. It’s kinda that cool sexy raspy now. After 30 more minutes, I got it. I got it down. A 30-second rap, up to tempo… in a little over an hour. Here I am, in my kitchen, two days later, rappin’ it:

This isn’t my first brain-hack rodeo. I’m doin’ it all the time. But this was the most fun one!

I was never bored. I was fully engaged. And I learned something. And it was a memory exercise no matter how you look at it. Such an esteemed undertaking!

Can’t we find our own meaningful things to learn, no matter how low on the esteem scale they may be judged to be?

Let’s talk about that. We tend to judge the value of what people know. Like, if I knew a Shakespeare soliloquy, I’d be held in quite high esteem. (The number of words in a Macklemore’s 30-second rap is equivalent to a 10-minute Shakespeare soliloquy. Absolutely no fact or research behind that statement at all.) But why diminish the value of anything? And who cares how highly esteemed something is if we don’t ever learn it – because, boring. Can’t we find our own meaningful things to learn, no matter how low on the esteem scale they may be judged to be?

Yes we can. And you will. It starts by remembering that you love some things. Some things you forgot because you were too busy. And maybe because you’re 46. But you eventually remember them, or they just show up for you and say, “Hey! Let’s do this!”

Memorize something you love. Who cares what it is. What about that quote you geek on that you’re always saying, “It goes something like…” Memorize that em-effer! And some of the stuff before it and after it, why don’tcha. Or if you’re a yogeek, hit one of those mantras. Hard. Or what about that song you kinda mumblize: “Never danced like this before… mmmble mmmble talk about it…”? And oh, dang – what about a dance? Watch some music vid choreography and learn it!

Memorize something you love. It starts by remembering that you love some things.

Disclaimer #18: I’m not gonna go into all the “learning type” talk here, just click on this link and blow your mind about how the way you like to learn – auditory, visual, kinesthetic –  doesn’t really matter. You’re not really better off learning one way. So don’t rule out learning in all the ways learning is possible.

(I didn’t look up the lyrics to this rap ever, by the way. I’m probably not even saying that line with “ricochet” right. But I’m saying what I hear. Exercise complete.)

Learning something you love is self-motivating. So it’s more than feeling like something is fun. I thought those Lumosity memory games were just fine fun. But I had to summon up a shit-ton of willpower to do them. I do “my” rap on the way to physical therapy, loading up recyclables, shit – I always wanna do my rap!

I’m focusing on memory with this post, but you gotta hear this. It’s about biking. But, you know, I mentioned a bike in the beginning so I’m good.

There are all kindsa things you can gain besides better memory. I did a ride with a hardcore cyclist friend last week. He kept going hands-free. On gravel. And I was all, “I used to do that. Why don’t I do that anymore?” (Disclaimer #19: Yes, cyclist friends, I do realize he was doing this to give me a chance to pedal up.) So, the day after, I started letting go of the handlebars on my commutes. Two days later, I can ride my bike with no handlebars, no handlebars, no handlebars. What’d I gain? I just told you. A skill that makes me happy when I do it. And underneath, there are a lot more connections firing. Brain growth. Not for brain growth’s sake – for fun.

Gain a skill that makes you happy when you do it.

If you listen to the whole song my rap comes from, there’s more to rap. It gets all powerful and f-bomby! I am so learning the rest of it! And when I do, I’ll be putting a most esteemed check mark in the “memory exercise” box.

And that other box that no one ever puts on forms? You know what I’m talking about? The one that says “FUN”? I’ma put my mark there, too.

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