While teaching storytelling at Yale New Haven Hospital last night, I was trying to explain to someone about how I am a strong auditory learner and an exceptionally weak visual learner.
Essentially, I can remember almost everything I hear, but I have great difficulty remembering anything that I see.
I don’t notice a lot of things.
Elysha has argued that if she were standing in a lineup of brunettes of similar height, I would be hard-pressed to identify her. This is not true, of course, but there is some truth in what she says.
But this is true:
Elysha and I were at a party a few years ago when someone asked us what color our house is. I said, “Yellow.”
Elysha said, “Our house is not yellow.”
So began a debate over the color of our house, which I knew was yellow. We’d been living in the house for at least half-a-dozen years at that point, and I damn well knew the color of our house. It was clearly yellow. Unquestionable yellow. As yellow as the yellow of a yellow crayon.
A couple hours later, we turned onto our street and took a look at the house.
It’s not yellow. As you can see (below), it’s not even close to being yellow.
I’d been living in a house for years, and I couldn’t accurately recall the color of that house.
That is frightening.
Yes, it’s great to have an exceptionally strong auditory memory. Being able to remember everything that I hear and follow multiple conversations simultaneously is helpful. Elysha has caught me watching television and listening to an audiobook at the same time, and I can do so while maintaining focus on both narratives.
I’m sure that my auditory prowess has helped me with my writing and storytelling. I made me a debate champion in college (and a miserable person to argue with). It helps me analyze and dissect movies, television shows, and stories with ease because I’m able to hold large amounts of auditory information in my head for a long, long time.
All that is great.
But it would also be great if I could accurately identify the color of your house. Or recognize someone by their face rather than their voice. Or be able to tell someone what color shirt I’m wearing without having to look down to see.
That would be pretty great, too.