By Dave Andrusko
Okay, I grant you that at first blush “Moonwalking with Einstein” would seem to offer precious little that pro-lifers could use—even assuming the reader knew what the heck I was talking about. Actually it’s the title to a new book by Joshua Foer. As he explained in a Q& A with Miriam Landis at amazon.com, the title “refers to a memory device I used in the U.S. Memory Championship—specifically it’s a mnemonic that helped me memorize a deck of playing cards.”
I’ve ordered the book which is about how Foer went from covering the U.S. Memory Championship as a journalist to becoming a participant in the contest to actually winning!
It’s relevance for us is, I think, three-fold. First, the techniques—and they are techniques—are hardly new. Cicero used them to memorize his speeches in ancient Greece, Foer says, “and that medieval scholars used to memorize entire books.”
So, at the risk of sounding like an old-fogey, while I embrace new technologies with vigor, there are “tricks of the trade” that have stood the test of time. In our context, it would be the enormous importance of individual contact with young women facing crisis pregnancies. They will “remember” that you came in the flesh long after they’ve forgotten something they might read online.
Second, Foer talks extensively about memory and the sense of time. Why do our memories blend together as we get older? Our first response is to attribute it to some organic source, and, of course, it could be. But what Foer’s pointing out in this interview is that if “yesterday’s lunch is indistinguishable from the one you ate the day before, it’ll end up being forgotten.” There needs to be something even slightly unique.
That is why I try to offer our readers many different ways to think about abortion. The brutality, the inhumanity, the final result can become so “indistinguishable” that while we don’t “forget” that more than 3,000 unborn babies will die today, it can become less poignant because it’s the “same.”
That doesn’t mean necessarily that you show pictures of aborted babies. Our sense of urgency can be renewed in less confrontational ways.
I am revived and reinvigorated every time I see my new granddaughter—that’s very beautiful.
Something in between is to read Abby Johnson’s blog (Part Three). She is dealing with the emotional and spiritual aftermath of her two abortions and her inability to have another child in addition to the one living child she and her husband have now.
Third, the interview with the author of “Moonwalking with Einstein” talks about something called “The OK Plateau.” In a word it’s where you…plateau…you stop getting better.
Why? Because whatever it is—Foer uses typing as an example—has become automatic—“ You’ve moved it to the back of your mind’s filing cabinet.” How do you get better? It’s the product of a conscious decision.
“You’ve got to push yourself past where you’re comfortable,” Foer tells Landis. “You have to watch yourself fail and learn from your mistakes. That’s the way to get better at anything. And it’s how I improved my memory.”
I don’t think I have to belabor the lesson for us. No matter what you’re doing, unless you are playing Solitaire (and cheating), you typically fail more often than you succeed. Obviously, if you get overly discouraged, your progress stops—in fact, you’ll likely go backwards.
But you can easily plateau unless you make a conscious decision that every day you will do something to better prepare yourself to defend the defenseless. Doesn’t have to be something major; it might feel like—or even actually be—a small, “insignificant” gesture.
But the cumulative impact will be enormous: your mind, heart, and spirit will be refreshed, knowing that you are doing something on behalf of someone you may never know.
And, God willing, you might even save a life, directly or more likely indirectly, in the process.