A few weeks ago, I was writing an e-mail to a friend that my older niece, who only the other day fit comfortably in the crook of my arm, is getting married. I was merrily typing along, and then went back to re-read what I wrote. As a copy editor, that’s second nature.
I was shocked by what I saw. As I speed-typed along, I had put in words that sounded like, but were not the words I’d intended, dropped letters or words, and transposed letters. It looked like someone’s cat had walked across the keyboard.
I’m sure that, like me, you’ve dashed off an e-mail, briefly scanned it, and then hit “send” only to later see you’d put in an extra letter or dropped a few. Most people don’t care about this. In my line of work, such errors could get me fired.
That’s bad enough. I’ve also been guilty of walking into the kitchen to do something, get about halfway in, and then not remember why I came. I am forced to backtrack, and hope something will remind me. Senior moment.
I don’t consider myself a senior. Seniors are people over 65 – what used to be retirement age until the 2008 recession wiped out enough of our nest eggs to force us to keep working. But someone – no doubt under the age of 50 – coined the phrase “senior moment” and that has stuck.
My mother-in-law recently turned 80. For a long time she feared she was going the way of her mother, who died after years of Alzheimer’s. Now, she doesn’t care. Her excuse for whatever she forgot: “senior moment” trips off her tongue.
I’ve gotten into my car, and started driving and then pulled over in a panic, unable to remember my route. No, I don’t use GPS, I use my brain. And a map in the glove compartment.
Working out how to overcome these moments is an exercise in memory, like doing crossword puzzles. As with physical exercise, it’s hard work.
I’ve tried to slow down. When I write, I wait for the software program to alert me, in red, that I’ve misspelled something, although that doesn’t work if I write “punish” when I mean “publish” or drop several words I’d intended to include. Before I leave for someplace, I work out the route in my head. It forces me to cope. And then I come home to do more crossword puzzles.
However, I do not get senior moments when it comes to birds. I know which “life birds” I’ve seen, and which I’m seeking. I know the areas where I can successfully find particular birds depending on the season. I remember where they like to hang out, their calls and field marks. There is no stress involved, and it’s something I love to do.
That must be the connection.
Allow me to coin the phrase “junior moment” for those times when you are doing something you enjoy, and feeling like a kid again.