I am constantly trying to convince people about why my memory techniques are so useful and important. Improve your memory, potentially delay Alzheimer's, be sharper, etc. But today I want to write about a different reason. A reason that I think is honestly probably more important than any of those. We had a rest day on Everest on the 20th of April and I had decided to take a one hour hike to the nearest village to Base Camp - Gorak Shep. A little comfort food (namely a Coke, some Sherpa Stew, a Yak Steak with Chips, and a Kit-Kat bar) and some internet awaited me. Little did I know that I would be about to find out that one of my close family friends, Omar Pasalodos, had passed away from a heart attack. He was only 60.
It was an extremely tough thing to deal with on that day. Being so far removed from the real world and having to deal with a death (something that I have only had to deal with once before when my Grandmother passed) on my own while also remaining focused on the climb was not easy. Luckily we had a few rest days and I was able to get it out of my system before we climbed again.
I have come to terms with it now. Omar was a great man and a great second-father figure to me. Everybody dies, and it was just his turn at that moment - it's the process of life.
A big part of what has helped me through the mourning process was the fact that Omar played a pretty large role in my memorization system. He was (well, still is!) the 10 of Hearts in my cards system and "008" in my number system. One of the things I love about memorizing, is that it lets my mind escape to things from my past and present. I remember memorizing a few decks of cards during the remainder of my expedition and getting so excited when I saw Omar (or the 10 of Hearts) in my mind doing some silly action. It started to make me feel like he was living on inside my head.
It was a great feeling, and it served a double purpose. One, it allowed me to go visit him whenever I wanted. Two, I could memorize faster because seeing his image while I memorized was extra "sticky" for my brain. The emotions tagged with his death and being able to see him again in my mind seem to amplify what I am memorizing. It's incredible and it makes me happy that he is there when I need him.
The same is applied to my journeys. My Miami home has just been sold and I will never be able to have a family christmas there, a quick swim in the pool, a jog around the block, a memorization session in my room of the past 8 years. It's a sad thought that someone else will be living there now and I won't be able to visit it whenever I please. But au contraire...I have a few journeys that I use for memorization that are mental walkthroughs of different parts of the house and the backyard. Whenever I want, I can jump back into that place and walk around and interact with it.
The fact that I practice memory everyday, means that these images and journeys get fixed into my brain more and more strongly. When I'll be 80, they will still be there. And to me, that is such a comforting feeling - to know that I can escape to all the places that meant so much to me and to see all the people I've loved through my life, just by memorizing things.
In brief, the point is this. Memory training has a ton of advantages, but one that may be often overlooked is the fact that it reinforces the memories of your life and they begin to live inside your head, free to be explored at a moment's notice with large amounts of detail. So get training! :)