A Loss for Words

The TV studio went quiet as we started the sound check. Back in the sound room, the club president was trying to get our mics to work.

Recite the Pledge of Allegiance,” he said to me through the headpiece.

And so I started. I hadn’t said the Pledge for, oh, maybe 10 years, but it was ingrained in my memory from countless recitations in elementary school. “I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America . . . one nation, I forget a part, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

I didn’t realize what had happened until later. I had experienced selective memory loss—“under God” had been edited out at a subconscious level, due to my environment and my habit of not mentioning God.

This selective memory loss happened again last summer at work. I attempted to describe an encounter with a rude customer to a colleague, and suddenly I found myself at a loss for words. You see, I’ve formed a solid habit of only saying positive/neutral things about other people, and it seems that this habit has become self-enforcing.

I didn’t realize habits, particularly self-censorship, could become so deeply embedded. It’s amazing and a bit scary at the same time. The moral of the story: watch your habits.


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