Monthly Archives: April 2012

Grateful for: Memory

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I seek refuge in Allah from satan the accursed.

In the name of Allah Most Compassionate Most Merciful.

 

Memory is one of the most precious blessings bestowed by our Maker.   It is truly responsible for our sense of self.

Memory is not just for remembering significant childhood events, milestones, or traumatic incidents.  It allows us to function, survive, thrive, and stay sane.   The unfortunate truth is that our species learns the important lessons about gratitude and our dependence on The Merciful mostly through losing one of our abilities or possessions.  Thus, examine any case of memory loss, and you will definitely be astonished at how deeply involved it is in the human experience.

Memory is what allows us to make meaning and sense of life.  It is involved in all the activities listed in my previous post about hand-eye coordination.  It is also responsible for recognition of familiar faces, which makes for stable family and work life.  It even allows us to experience movement, because we only truly experience one moment and the fact that an object or being is moving comes from having remembered its previous positions and piecing them together to interpret what we’re seeing as movement.  At all times, our sense organs receive a multitude of signals and input, that we in turn interpret and react to.  Whereas animals are mostly preoccupied with survival and their next meal, our extensive memory allows us to have a more unique and richer life experience.

I’ve read and watched stories of people who lost their short or long-term memories, and all I can say is that it is absolutely heartbreaking to see how dysfunctional the lives of these people became.  A man lost his memory tied to specific life events.  So when asked about how to change a tire, the man listed the precise, detailed steps of how to go about it, but when asked to share a time when he had to actually change a tire, he thought and thought, until he finally said that he had never actually changed a tire.  When asked that if he really hadn’t changed one himself, how he knew such details.  He replied that it was just one of those things that people knew how to do.  Another man lost his visual cortex memory, so he declared his parents imposters pretending to be his parents, but when they were not in his sight, and spoke to him on the phone, he accepted them as his parents.  Another subject lost part of his procedural memory, so when a family member asked him to switch off the room light, he just stood by the switch.  Frustrated, he expressed that he knew how to switch it off but he just couldn’t quite remember it.

But the strangest story I ever saw was of the man named Clive Wearing who had no short-term memory.  For over twenty years, the man lived with the worst case of amnesia.  His memory was only thirty seconds long at the most, and that meant sometimes he would forget the topic of his discussion while he was in the middle of a sentence.  He lived with his wife and although recognized her, became jittery with happiness every time he saw her, even if she returned to him after a minute of leaving, as he would completely lose the memory of her being with him before.  Strangely, he retained his ability to play the piano and his language, but expressed that he didn’t have any thoughts at all and that he had never seen another human being before.  This was his understanding because he did not have any short-term memory and therefore no chance of building up a bank of long-term memories.  He was confined to constantly living in the present.

His story shows how profound memory is to our development through life.  Imagine not being able to conjure memories of growing up, of fun times with family and friends.  Imagine not being able to learn from your past.  Imagine not being able to experience the joys of kinship and friendship simply because you cannot remember anything that you experienced more than thirty seconds ago.  No memory also means no aspirations or dreams for your life.  And perhaps worst of all, no memory means no direct connection to God; for how could you even begin to pray or commune with God if you would forget the sequence of your words after no more than thirty seconds?

It was through this man’s difficult existence that I realized that all of the meaning in our life comes from memory.  All the emotions we experience, from happiness to sadness and all the other ups and downs we go through, happen as a result of our memory.  It is what makes us human, because it allows us to learn, plan, and make choices in life.  So let’s raise our hands and bow down our heads and thank The Most Merciful for this beautiful gift that allows us to have a colorful and fulfilling life experience.

 

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Grateful for: hand-eye coordination

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I seek refuge in Allah from satan the accursed.

In the name of Allah Most Compassionate Most Merciful.

 

A couple months ago, I got inspired by reading the very popular Neil Paricha’s blog about a thousand awesome things.  For those unfamiliar with his blog, he goes over the little things in life that we gain joy from, such as when a server refills our drink before we ask them to, or when a cashier opens a new lane at the grocery store and you end up being their first customer, and so on.  I began thinking that there are indeed so many things in life we get joy from, and we really need to be more conscious of Allah SWT’s blessings.  It is after all an integral part of our worship to be grateful towards our Merciful Creator.

I decided to start my series of posts titled “Grateful for” with hand eye coordination.  It may seem like an odd topic, but I decided to dive into it because during my undergraduate studies, I took an introductory course in behavioural and neuro psychology, and one lecture really made me appreciate our sense of hand eye coordination, which most of the time we do not even realize as a special ability.  I remember sitting in the lecture room as the prof projected an image of a man reaching for a hot mug of coffee from his kitchen table.  She started off by stating how lifting up a mug and bringing it to your mouth appears to be a simple task, but in reality, it is actually quite complex because it requires the relaying and coordination of several messages between the brain, eyes, hands, and the muscles involved in completing the act.  I was quite fascinated by this piece of knowledge and for this reason I have carried that lecture’s memory with me for over five years now.

But just to say that I am grateful for hand eye coordination would not be enough.  There are so many activities we engage in our daily lives that require the use of this beautiful gift, and so I decided to list as many as I could think of.  Some of my entries are more  general whereas others are more specific, but my aim is simply to remind all of us to take some time to be grateful to our Most Kind Lord, and if after going through my list, you have other activities to add that use hand eye coordination, then please do list them in the comments section.  You don’t have to make a comment; you can just post another way we use hand eye coordination if you are more comfortable with that.

  1. typing
  2. writing
  3. frying food
  4. making sandwiches
  5. opening cabinets
  6. opening doors
  7. tying shoe laces
  8. locking/unlocking doors
  9. using TV remote
  10. changing clothes
  11. opening drawers
  12. picking up tea/coffee mug
  13. bringing tea/coffee mug to mouth to drink
  14. driving
  15. painting walls
  16. ironing clothes
  17. setting internet router
  18. using phones/ mobiles
  19. getting on and off the bed
  20. plugging in the vacuum cleaner
  21. navigating to clean with the vacuum
  22. using taps
  23. placing the food plate/dish in the microwave
  24. setting the microwave timer
  25. opening a can of soda and inserting straw
  26. filling up a glass with a drink
  27. changing diapers
  28. using the toilet
  29. using the bathroom sink
  30. switching lights on/off
  31. using a still camera
  32. using a video camera
  33. buttering toast
  34. moving prepared food from pan to plate
  35. playing video games
  36. washing dishes
  37. opening/closing windows
  38. installing window coverings
  39. opening/closing drapes/blinds
  40. mowing the lawn
  41. shoveling
  42. making tea/coffee
  43. making your bed
  44. changing bedding
  45. playing cards
  46. playing board games
  47. dusting
  48. mopping
  49. folding laundry
  50. using stain remover on clothes before washing them
  51. stapling paper
  52. hole punching paper
  53. sifting through clothes at a store
  54. getting a tissue out of a tissue box
  55. changing light bulbs
  56. gardening
  57. clipping nails
  58. shaking hands
  59. changing a tire
  60. connecting the cable box to the television
  61. assembling furniture
  62. measuring liquid medication
  63. making crafts
  64. measuring ingredients for baking/cooking
  65. decorating cakes/cupcakes
  66. pressing the elevator button to get on
  67. pressing the button for the desired floor on the elevator
  68. putting cereal into bowl from the box
  69. bagging groceries
  70. wiping counters and hard surfaces
  71. chopping fruits/vegetables
  72. loading/unloading laundry
  73. using the washer/dryer command buttons
  74. arranging decoration pieces around the house
  75. eating steak
  76. using a screw driver
  77. swiping credit card at a vendor
  78. dressing up a hot dog before eating it
  79. picking up the laundry basket
  80. using a photocopier
  81. using a parking meter
  82. adding sugar and cream to your tea/coffee
  83. playing carnival games
  84. making your plate at a buffet
  85. hammering nails
  86. hanging pictures on the wall
  87. adding pictures to a photo album
  88. altering pants
  89. sewing on buttons
  90. collecting garbage to put it on the curb
  91. shaving
  92. filling salt and pepper shakers
  93. driving a stroller (with baby)
  94. gardening
  95. using an ipad/laptop/desktop
  96. playing baseball
  97. using a pointer at an office meeting/conference
  98. lifting up and holding your child
  99. bathing your child
  100. arming/disarming an alarm system