In order to have something, you actually need to leave it. In order to remember something, you need to take it to the point of almost forgetting. In order to listen to the music, you need to have silence.
Yep, I guess I ended up sounding Zen-ish. But it’s seriously something that has been going through my mind lately. In order to have something, sometimes the best thing to do is to leave it or at least have it almost beyond your reach.
The easiest way that this comes to me is in terms of flashcards. I have a very basic flashcard program on my iPhone and iPad called Midori. The flashcard program is very basic in my view because it for the most part studying words in isolation is not the way to go. (See AJATT on this one.) However, I have come really try to use cracks in time and sometimes hate to waste a minute so, in a pinch, I will have some fun with the flashcards. (Speaking of a pinch–on the iPad version of Midori if you “pinch out” a flashcard that you are reviewing you can see sample sentences.)
But is really important to remember to forget. I make it a point to stop studying cards when they start to repeat. If a card starts to repeat too soon, you are drilling to kill. You are fracking your mind. I prefer to wait, look around, have some fun and come back to the card when it is more of a “reach” instead of a mindless repetition. Daniel Coyle, author the talent code, and many other writers speak about the effects of positive reaches. You want to consistently go towards facts, skills, ideas that are just beyond your reach.
I also think in terms of emptying. To get full, you need to empty. If you want to soak up water with a sponge, you need to squeeze it out. If you want to hear music better, you need to have silence.
I’ve incorporated this into my morning exercises in Numazu. I walk out with my iPod, listening to a podcast or Japanese music. I am staying in an area called 千本浜, and I fast-walk in a shady area filled with thousands of pine trees. I tack my way back through the beach (don’t get too inspired–it’s concrete lined beach 🙂 ) and stop at a rocky point and do Chinese exercises called Nei Kung. I used to listen to music, but I was starting to get annoyed and decided to turn off the music and just listen to the sound of the waves. Or not.
I think that silence is important. It’s another way of taking things to the edge by emptying out. I don’t think there should be any rules or techniques about how you do this, but I think it is important to be cognizant of when music, words, and information start to be noise.
Take it to the edge. Empty out to fill up. Forget to remember.