Lessons from an Elephant

This afternoon I came to an obvious but formerly denied conclusion: I am extremely forgetful. I came to this realization when I returned home after a meeting and learned that I had no idea where my backpack was. I looked all over my apartment but to no avail. Finally, I accepted that I had somehow left it in the room where my meeting was. So I trudged back through the cold and found it lying in the middle of the meeting room floor. I sighed as I picked it up–this was a new one for me. I’ve left wallets, jackets, purses, eyeglasses (I could go on and on) but I’ve never left my backpack somewhere. This comes only one week after forgetting to take my keys with me to work and then getting off work and thinking that I left them back at work, only to realize that I never brought them in the first place.

This is nothing new for me. I remember when I was 9 or 10, I lost my Winnie The Pooh wallet with about $30 in it after going to the store with my mom. For the next hour I was frantic. I called the store, emptied the car of all its contents, and destroyed my room, looking for that wallet. All of my searching was in vain however because my mom later found it in one of the bags we had brought home from the store. I also remember a time when I was about 13 when I literally got down on my knees to pray for God to help me find my new pair of glasses that I had misplaced once again. I knew if I didn’t find them, my mother would unleash a torrential downpour of disappointment and tell me that I had to wear my old pair that were cracked and being held together with a combination of super glue and tape. No teenager wants to be seen in that. I nonchalantly looked everywhere in my house, trying not to attract attention to myself, but really freaking out on the inside. I eventually found them in the bathroom, and to this day still have no idea why (I think my younger brother may have had a hand in this). Obviously, my lost-and-found list has a long history and continues to grow almost daily.

As I was pondering why I lose practically everything I touch, I recalled the phrase, “Elephants Never Forget.” I decided to find out if that was true and came across an abundance of information about the memory of an elephant. First off, I found out that female elephants are smarter than male elephants. Just putting that out there. Also, an older female elephants shows signs of a superior memory. If that were true, my 59-year-old mother wouldn’t require my assistance to find her glasses, keys, purse, and wallet numerous times a week. (Think it runs in the family?)

The most interesting elephant tidbit that I read was the fact that the smell-related region of elephant’s brain is very well-developed. They can smell the difference in urine of up to 30 female relatives, even if they have been absent for years. If there’s a human out there that can do that, I don’t want to know.

I did take away something from the elephant research that sounded vaguely familiar when I read it. An elephant’s brain doesn’t remember everything, only what’s necessary for survival like food location and family identification. Maybe that’s my problem. I focus so much on what I’ve forgotten, that I don’t acknowledge how much I remember. There are worse things than forgetting where I put my toothbrush.

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About sambates

UNK student, Mormon, Vegetarian View all posts by sambates

2 responses to “Lessons from an Elephant

  • blumemr

    OK, I got a great animal memory story…Goldfish! My boyfriend told me that the reason you give a fish just a small amount of food at a time is because goldfish have only a 3 sec. memory span so they eat, 3 sec later they forgot they ate, so eat again until they overeat and die. This is false, in fact gold fish have a great memory and can be taught tricks. They will come to a learned sound (like a dog when you whistle) they can be trained to follow your finger, go through mazes and can recognize other fish. It’s pretty cool because we don’t think of fish as being smart animals!

  • Ralph Hanson

    I totally understand the concept of looking for something while not letting on to people around you that you are looking for it. This has potential for a personal column later on.

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