On memorizing and listening.
I enjoy memorizing things. From the specific gravity of peanut oil to hundred-year-old comic story poems, I have a lot of stuff in my head ready to be recalled at any time.
When I was a full-time missionary I decided to add to my repertoire of memorized tidbits one verse of scripture every day. For a few months this was a very enjoyable experience, adding more and more of the passages I loved and used to my mind’s store. After a few months I stopped trying to search out particularly pithy passages to learn and switched to memorizing entire chapters, one verse per day.
One day I was sitting in sacrament meeting and the speaker began to read from a chapter I had memorized. He read it slightly wrong, so I corrected him silently in my head and also brought to mind more of the context of the passage and realized, a minute or two later, that I had stopped listening to his address and was still reciting in my head the rest of that chapter. “Self,” I said to myself, “this is not good. Hearken!”
But as I continued to add to my memorized pool and as people continued to utilize those passages in addresses I heard I continued to fail to maintain focus on the message the passage supported. And so I determined to cease memorizing scripture.
As years have gone by I have often gone back to second-guess that decision. It is pleasant to have a pool of pithy passages prepared, but I seem yet to lack the humility to hearken and self-control to focus on the message, not the passage.
Don Jesson, a friend in my formative years, was fond of asserting that he wasn’t clever enough to be a liar. I find myself not mature enough to have a photographic memory. ’Tis odd how such seemingly unrelated virtues interplay.