I auditioned for the Prairie Players’ fall production of Arsenic and Old Lace and was assigned the role of Elaine. Elaine is 20 years my junior. There will be no living with me now.
Our director, Stephanie (bless her heart), seems to think I can pull it off. I knew I liked that girl. If I make a complete fool of myself, at least I won’t have as long to live with the humility as I would if I actually were 20 years younger.
Most thespians agree the best part of being involved in a play is the camaraderie with the cast and crew throughout the production. But did you know memorizing all those lines keeps actors young, too? It’s true.
The benefits to our brains of memorizing anything are well documented, including the improvement of brain function, neural plasticity, focus, and so on. Ever notice how easy it is for a child to learn a second language while adults struggle? It’s because the youthful plasticity of their brains makes it easy to chart new neuro pathways. Learning something new forces your brain to chart new paths and can help ward off dementia. The added benefits to your heart and spirit when you memorize scripture or meaningful poetry are greater still.
Regardless what you believe about the power of God’s word, memory training of any kind can stave off cognitive decline. According to a blog post on the Best Colleges Online site, “Memory-forming can become a healthy lifelong habit. Researchers from the National Institute on Health and Aging have found that adults who went through short bursts of memory training were better able to maintain higher cognitive functioning and everyday skills, even five years after going through the training. Practicing memorization allowed the elderly adults to delay typical cognitive decline by seven to 14 years. Students who start practicing memory training now can stay sharp in years to come.”
Having the ability to memorize a script for a play, yet being too lazy to memorize scripture, frequently leads me to “should” on myself. Shoulding on yourself is never a healthy practice. Either do the thing you think you should, or stop shoulding, I say.
So a few weeks ago, after our youth pastor, Colton, invited the congregation to read Psalm 103 aloud together, I decided to try memorizing it verbatim. I printed it out and sticky-tacked it to the wall beside my bathroom mirror where I could work on it while fixing my hair and makeup each morning. Then I review it each night when the makeup comes off. By adding a line or two a day, it came surprisingly easy. And it’s a lovely improvement over my usual habit of rehearsing my grievances during this activity. Plus, it took no extra time out of my day!
Two weeks later, I recited the passage to my hubby. It worked so well, I decided to go to the beginning and tacked up Psalm 1 and 2. Two weeks after that, I recited both chapters. I’m now working on 3 and 4. At this rate, I could learn the entire book of Psalms between now and 2018. (I might have to take a break to learn Elaine’s lines.)
I’d sure like to make this a lifelong habit. You with me?
If I’m going to portray the youthful Elaine, I’m going to need all the help I can get. Now if I could just recall where I put that script.