As an old dog, I confirm it’s difficult to learn new tricks. But nobody is scoring; we don’t need a perfect ten.
today at 8:00 am
I was a whiz at memorizing when I was a boy. Learning came easy thanks to a near-photographic mind. I could literally close my eyes and visualize the pages I had read.
In high school I breezed through my role in the senior play, never dropping a cue. Same ability in college, ace-ing exams by shuffling through my Rolodex brain to pull up the pages of required reading. The knack continued to serve me well throughout my career, speech-making and laying out extemporaneous riffs of poems and pithy quotes.
I don’t know precisely when the memory waned but I can cite the difficulty learning my lines that put a damper on my middle age gig acting in television commercials. It was more annoying than seriously debilitating; I likened it to a sponge for information that was slowly becoming less porous.
Studies show our brains have a harder time with short-term memory because the brain is unable to filter and remove old memories which prevent it from absorbing new ideas. Initially, I didn’t pay much attention to the problem because my work over the past decades didn’t require what I would describe as technological or abstract knowledge.
For the groups and workshops I led, the stories we shared dealt with personal experiences, tapping into heart ache, rather than brain-drain. The curriculum was ‘taught’ through example, my willingness to share personal life stories as distinct from referencing ‘information.’
Enter Covid-19 and social distancing and stay home shutdowns; no physical room, never mind emotional space for warm embraces and a group hug while “Amazing Grace” plays in the foreground. I had to find new purpose for getting out of bed in the morning.
Without personal growth groups and workshops and personal interaction I turned introspective. Sitting in front of the computer I started to roam the world of internet and social media. And an idea formed: I visualized a digital publishing company that curated news for specific demographics, advocacy without confrontation, traditional newspaper journalism tailored for the cyber world. **
I had to learn more than a few new tricks; an entire new vocabulary stood in the way of progress!
Topics like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) became more than a phrase, they were necessary for success. Which led me to SEMrush and Yoast and Uplinks and White Hat/Black Hat… and then there was the email component and Landing Pages and subscription forms and Affiliated marketing programs. I’m absorbing the information slowly. None of it is intuitive; a good deal of it I don’t understand in the slightest. It’s hard to learn. I do the operations over and over, but they elude me.
Those are some of the learning hurdles I’m encountering. But my difficulty in absorbing the information is not the point I’m making. What I’m really learning is how to be kind to myself! When you’ve lived longer than the introduction to the Gettysburg Address, there is only so much energy in the tank.
I’ve changed roles from the hare to the turtle, but I remind myself, I’m not in a race, so it’s okay to bump along. My advice: wrap a scarf around your collar and take a walk while the sun still is showing up. Ink in the cat nap after lunch on the 1:00 to 1:30 time slot on the daily calendar. And if tomorrow and tomorrow turns into continued futility, well then brother, when you’re in a hole, stop digging.
Seek help when it’s needed. When internet tech-speak turns your eyes into pinwheels, take pride in pursuing your intention and sticking to your commitment.
** Check out the progress of the first publication, the “Senior News Daily,” www.seniornewsdaily.com. Feedback welcomed.