Clearing Your Head to Clear Your Way to New Ideas
by Jack Guarnieri, Jersey Jack Pinball & PinballSales.com
As a kid, I was asked, or told, to pay attention. Maybe my focus wasn’t the best all the time. I don’t have an attention disorder, but I’ve tended to pay closer attention to what I want to and not hear much of what I’m not that interested in. I can dial in or tune out as I choose, I guess. (No pun intended with my new Dialed In! pinball game. LOL)
We all do it to varying degrees. It seems when I meet someone new, I listen closely to the discussion but I almost never remember the person’s name. I have to really focus, repeat and take a picture in my mind before I have it. People who know me, though, also know I have a photographic memory. I like to sometimes say it’s out of “film,” but I do have an ability to remember pictures of things. I seem to be able to recall thousands of them.
It’s the same for me with trying to remember the exact dates something occurred. I just don’t remember that “X” happened on such-and-such a date. I can remember the details of the event in full color, hear the sounds and rewind it in my mind. I remember birthdays and phone numbers and license plates. I even remember details of customers from more than 15 years ago.
Recently, a customer called who I haven’t spoken to in 10 years or so. I recalled minor details of the transaction and the fact that her husband bought a game as a gift for her sister. She was floored as I recalled all that while driving and talking hands free so she knew there was no way I could have looked in some magic database for that information.
Remembering things is great most of the time. It’s a shock to people when I recall meetings, agreements or discussions with very accurate and precise details. Often the other party will say something like, “Oh, I do remember that now,” or ask me, “How do you remember that?” By the way, I am lucky enough to forget many painful things and instead focus on the positive, building on relationships. I guess you could say that I leverage relationships.
Where am I going with this trip down memory (or should I say “remembering”) lane?
Last week, I misplaced my sunglasses and started looking for them. But only once I stopped and cleared my mind was I able to “see” them sitting on a file cabinet in an office. Sure enough, I went there and found them just as I pictured them in my mind. The funny thing is that if my wife Joanne calls me and asks me to bring milk home, 99 percent of the time, I’m coming home without it.
The daydreaming time for me is the best. Today I drove with the top down listening to Ron Howard’s picks for his favorite Beatles songs. My mind was on driving, but my subconscious was remembering so many happy memories the music triggered. It was almost like taking a vacation. Episodic memory perhaps, but its interesting how my unconscious memory communicates with my subconscious. As I’ve gotten older this memory ability has remained the same even though I’ve piled on more to remember every year.
I really do my best thinking when I’m not trying to think about something specific. When my mind is clear, it’s free to receive and create new things, ideas, thoughts and experiences. Think about when you do your “best thinking.” For some, it’s in the morning, maybe as you’re exercising or just after your arrival at work. Recognize what works for you and expand on it. Set aside that special time that may be the best opportunity for you to write, create, solve or to settle things.
I am reminded of this quote by Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor from 161-180 who wrote spiritual meditations: “People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills…There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind…So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.”
Who knows, if you’re like me, maybe it will even help you remember to pick up that milk on the way home.
Jack Guarnieri started servicing electro-mechanical pinball machines in 1975 and has been involved in every phase of the amusement game business since then. He was an operator in NYC, then began a distributorship in 1999, PinballSales.com, selling coin-op to the consumer market. In January of 2011 he founded Jersey Jack Pinball (named after his RePlay Magazine pen name), which builds award-winning, full-featured, coin-op pinball machines. Email Jack at jack@ jerseyjackpinball.com.