I was never a mnemoniac. They drove me mad, I’d glaze over, and inevitably never grasp the process. One of the few I could ever quote was “i before e except after c” or “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Probably because it was short. I had the attention span of a drugged monkey. I’m still hazy about which months have thirty days, the mnemonic never helped “Thirty days have (white noise) …” In reality I couldn’t be bothered. Even now, memorising lists results in “Just shoot me.”
Mnemonic ( comes from Koine Greek: μνημονενμα) which meant – a record of the past, and so we promote memorising for learning. But, mnemonic also means to be mindful.
And so there is another form of mnemonic I do relate to, and that is learning from someone’s life. A person’s life can be a mnemonic or pattern that inspires. The names that have inspired me include: Martin Luther King Jnr., Rosa Parks, Maximilian Kolbe, Sir Edmund Hilary, Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Jimmy Carter, Simone Weil, John Muir, Dag Hammarskjold, the Dalai Lama, Parker Palmer, Aung San Suu Kyi, and so many others. I have taken something from each of them, something from their pattern of living, something that inspires or makes sense. These people are living patterns, and through documentary, books, or watching them, I can see their way of being.
I’m not bothered how many days are in a month, but I am interested in mindfully attending to the wonderful examples of humanity around me, and learning from them.