Does Anyone Know Where I Left My Car Keys?

By Troy Headrick

I’ve been forgetful lately.  I’m talking like, I’ll be in one part of my house, decide that I need something from another room, head to that locale, and as soon as I arrive there, I can no longer recall what I wanted to get.  I know this is a near universal human experience because I’ve had numerous friends, once I’ve told them about this tendency of mine, say, “That happens to me all the time.”

I’m sorry to hear that so many of us are prone to having these sudden moments of confusion.  And it feels like confusion too.  It’s disorienting to lose one’s train of thought so quickly.  Where, by the way, do lost thoughts end up?  Is there some “lost and found” where they all congregate and wait to be reunited with their owner-thinkers? 

I’m certainly getting older, but I don’t think my recurring forgetfulness has anything to do with any sort of physiological problem with my brain.  Writing that prompts me to wonder what, exactly, is the relationship between the very real organ and the ethereal thoughts it produces?  Scientists are certainly able to explain this connection, but I have about as much formal training in the science of thinking as I do in the art of plumbing.

I think my forgetfulness is mostly my fault.  Actually, I spoke too hastily and now want to recant.  It’s the world’s fault instead.  (Passing the buck is always such a cathartic experience, isn’t it?)

It wasn’t that long ago that humans were able to live lives that bore little resemblance to the way we live today.  Of course, we are extremely adaptable animals, so we have adjusted, but in making these adjustments, we have lost something—or a lot.  It’s that something (or a lot) I want to try to identify and discuss. 

In my short lifetime, the world has changed so much.  When I was a child, the planet was less crowded and much quieter.  Where there are fewer people and voices, there is more breathing room and silence.  As the voices grow more plentiful and loud, the demands on our attention multiply.

The world of work has changed too.  People now spend many hours a day living within bureaucratic jungles where hierarchies require lots of paying attention to who’s on top and who’s below.  In such places, there are plenty of predators and the soon-to-be eaten.  This constant need to be wary gets the “fight or flight” juices flowing, and the mind feels perpetually ill at ease and distracted.  At the end of each day, after fighting traffic to get home, there is the need to flush all this away.  Unfortunately, there is no foolproof mental plunger (that I’ve ever been able to find), so all this noise and clutter and fear and waste just sits there, dirtying up the subconscious, making it hard to fall asleep at night.  If one does manage to drift off, daytime fears manifest themselves in all sorts of nightmarish scenarios. 

Is it any wonder that I can’t find where I left my glasses or why I went to the kitchen in the first place?  I wanted to pull a drumstick from the fridge, but then I remembered that my boss had given me a report to write and I had forgotten about it for a few days and am now in jeopardy of turning it in late.  I guess this means I might have to set my alarm extra early tomorrow morning. 

I notice that I’m standing in the kitchen, facing the fridge, even as I wonder how much time I’m going to need to get that thing written.  I don’t want to leave until I remember what brought me here.  My stomach growls and I’m reminded, oh yes, I was hungry, wasn’t it, and I wanted to get my hands on a piece of cold chicken, didn’t I? 

If this ain’t life as we currently live it, then I’m a monkey’s uncle. 

That’s why so many of us are planning our great escapes from ALL THIS.  I’ve got my plan in mind and frequently discuss it with my wife.  One day, we’re going to get all our ducks in a row and then, suddenly, you’ll notice that we’re gone. 


Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found here and his business page can be found here.

29 thoughts on “Does Anyone Know Where I Left My Car Keys?

  1. Troy, every line is relatable! I am glad to be retired and distanced from the world of deadlines, paperwork, and politics. When I stand in front of the refrigerator, I usually do eventually remember that I came for the strawberries. All the best!

  2. Hi, Uncle Monkey! Hah, no you’re not, alas, for everything you said is true. You made me wonder though, about the work/life rhythm having changed so much. Is that only in these Developed countries, or is it everywhere? I wonder if this state has gotten worse since we stopped making complete things, and now make only tiny contributions. We don’t follow complete processes in almost everything, so how could we be expected to have full-circle connection processes? Like you looking for chicken, I find I have to go around a circle other thoughts to come around to the action thought. So weird! Now I must go and pointlessly overthink this today, after I have tea, then draw, then, then, then. 🙂 Thanks.

    1. Multitasking fragments our powers of concentration. We don’t need people with diluted abilities to concentrate; we need people who can give themselves fully to tasks. When people have a diminished power to concentrate, we can expect mediocre work from such individuals. There’s too much noise, clutter, and nonsense. I’m not sure that humans are hardwired for so much clutter, distraction, and such high demands from those who have power over us. I find your notion that we don’t follow “complete processes” very intriguing. I think you are making the same fragmentation argument I’m making. With the advent of the internet we have good things and bad things. The internet increases the noise and distraction but it also created new ways to work, ways that are more empowering and less dehumanizing. I’d like to hear more about your “complete processes” theory. i think I get it, but I may be misreading you. Thanks so much for leaving such an interesting comment.

  3. Caregiving to a Parkinson’s Disease patient adds to the confusion… you have to remember for two. … it’s hard to remember what you forgot much less what someone else forgot.

    1. My father has Parkinson’s Disease so I know what you mean. Fortunately, so far, his disease progression seems to be slowed via medication and such. I truly feel for you, sir. I know what you mean. I can barely keep myself together. It would be nigh near impossible to have to be the sort of caregiver you are. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

    1. Hi. I’m glad you asked for my plan. I think the plan is to keep from getting entirely pulled into the maelstrom. Unplug when you can. Cultivate quietness. Find a retreat and spend as much time as you can. Think about liviing an alternative lifestyle. Find a way to work where you retain as much self-control and autonomy as possible. Those would be some steps to take. What do you think about all this?

      1. Sounds good to me, I had to unplug from social media and news especially this year, the pandemic info was a bit much. Love cultivating quietness and the retreat 👍

    1. Been there, done that. Eating a set of car keys could cause a bit of internal upset, don’t you think? Thanks for giving me a chuckle. Nothing more valuable than a dose of humor dispensed early in the day. Thanks.

  4. Don’t leave us Troy!! Lol but eerily, I’ve spent the evening planning my escape too. Something I became interested in a few years ago, and you actually may have recently sparked that fire again… more to come 😉

    1. We won’t take off unless we’ve got dependable internet at out destination. There’s something very liberating about loading up and taking off to parts unknown. That’s probably a very American thing to say, rootless people that we are. I’ve been in my current location for five years and I feel like I kind of stopped growing. I’ve always loved shapeshifting and such. Thanks for the making me realize I’m not alone in feeling such urges.

  5. I just read an interesting article on the bbc about how isolation has made our memories worse. Lack of social contact affects the brain negatively compounding issues such as depression and anxiety which hinders memory retention. Also the repetitive nature of our days seemingly merging into one when stuck at home doesn’t help. It turns out that variety is really important for memory. Getting sucked in online certainly hasn’t my mental health this year – something that became very obvious during the election as I found myself obsessively checking my phone. I didn’t sleep well that week! I’ve taken to putting my phone in a draw in my bedroom to make sure I have a good reason for picking it up! Getting outside and going for a walk helps enormously too.

    If you fancied the quick read:

    Thanks for sharing Troy.

    1. Very interesting take on things and thanks for the link. I’ll definitely give the article a look. I never would have guessed that there’s a link between staying at home and memory. I guess it makes sense though. Once a person’s range of experiences sort of shrinks, it would (likely) be easier to sort of just “doze off.” I sometimes feel like I’m in a perpetual state of slumber. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with a good nap, but I wouldn’t recommend sleeping while standing or moving through life. I’ve never wanted to become a somnambulist and I don’t dream–pun intended–of becomeing one now. Thanks, man.

  6. A beautiful piece, Troy. You pretty much captured my entire teaching career in your description of nighttime anxiety. So much political BS; so many nonsensical games.
    A friend of mine, who is Polish, moved to The US when she was in her twenties. When we first met I asked her, “What was your first impression of America?” She stopped, and with a quizzical expression said, “Everyone is obsessed with work.” And, I think she was right.
    Is it too much to ask to want to do more. . . than just get by? 🕊

    1. I think we all ought to form a commune with a few guiding principles. One of them would be to respect quietness and inaction. Yes, having lived in places where people value things other than work, I definitely get where your Polish friend is coming from. In many other places, people don’t confuse earning a paycheck with earning a sense of self (if you know what I mean). Thanks for being a kindred spirit. Peace.

  7. I represent that. I think it’s stress related as you showed. I have been through a lot, but between the pandemic and our political situation I have never experienced more fear. I become scattered when I am in fear. It’s internal, like in my gut. That’s something I’ll examine, but fear is the only way I see it for me. Too much change at once. My inner little boy is acting out. The world used to appear to be so stable to me. I can handle one battle at a time, not multiple battles at every level. I feel like I should do something. I feel abandoned by the institutions that gave the appearance of unity and solidarity. Now I am trying to figure out how I can contribute to society by increasing our focus on unifying principles.

    I appreciate your article. Take care and be safe.

    1. Hi, Tim. I mentioned “fight or flight” feelings in my piece and that’s what you’re referring to. Like you, fear disturbs me, makes be feel shaky and scattered.

      I love your idea about wanting to get involved to contribute to “unifying principles.” Your words made me think of the following TED Talk.

      I think Lesser is on to something. I actually blogged about this talk a long time ago.

      What do you think about her idea? I know we live in what others have called information “silos.” We stay with our own kind too much and don’t intermingle enough.

      Thanks for sharing your story. Like you, I represent that.

  8. An inspired and humorous post that I thoroughly enjoyed. So many of us can see ourselves in your words. ‘Senior moments’ and youthful ‘absentmindedness’ … zen like spaces in brain function… mine have given me more than a few chuckles too. Thanks for sharing this.

  9. I relate strongly to the part about more voices and more noise making it difficult to sleep. We have the ability to connect with more people than ever before, but I wonder if that someone spreads us too thin, robbing us of deep thought at times?

    I remember reading that to am extent talking in the way many do, such as, “I’m getting older so I’m becoming more forgetful” is one factor that can increase the likelihood of it happening. I know I am prone to walking through a doorway and succumbing to distraction – but I’m working on it!

    Thank you for sharing. 😊

    1. Hi, Hamish. Sorry for the lateness of my response. Thanks for reminding me that I might be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy when I talk and think about myself in a certain way. I’ve always been the kind of person who didn’t need to have a lot of close friendships. I always just liked having one or two very close people in my life. Maybe that was me trying to minimize the “voices” in my head to only one or two? Interesting to think about all this. Thanks so much, Hamish. Your comments always make me a bit wiser.

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