Bits and Pieces, Part II

I began the previous post, entitled Bits and Pieces, Part I, by addressing the specific question of how do I proceed when I face the dilemma of not being able to think of the right word or not being able to put together my thoughts on a particular topic? The simple answer was I used the bits and pieces that I did have until I had enough information to be able to put together the whole puzzle. I tried to rely heavily on my own memory and thought processes before enlisting outside resources like the internet.

Let me try to explicate the process further, by giving you a second example. This example occurred several months ago. I was trying to write an essay on different views and definitions of liberal arts.

Because I had been working on this essay for a number of months, I had the ideas generally formulated. What I wanted to do was introduce the topic by referring to a scenario that occurred many times in ancient Greece when two protagonists had differing ideas. They aired those ideas in a public setting. This is where I was lost. I couldn’t think of the word to describe that public setting.

So with this information, I went to a friend to ask him what word was I looking for. He gave me a word. Unfortunately, it was not the word I wanted. The word he gave me was forum. It was a good word, and perfectly described the process that I was trying to describe. Why wasn’t it the right word? Unfortunately, this word is Latin and not Greek.  But now I had enough information to go to a second source who knew right away the word for which I was searching. The word was agora. In Greek, it means “market place.” In each city in ancient Greece, there was an open area where merchants came to sell their wares. This area was the same place where orators would come to try to get people to buy their thoughts. So now I had two words that I could use, one Latin and one Greek, depending upon whether I wanted to reference ancient Greece or ancient Rome.

What was my process in this example? As soon as I had a general idea of what I wanted to express, I took those thoughts to a friend to ask for help in finding the best way to express my thoughts.

In the terminology of a popular television show, in both cases, I used a lifeline. The difference was when I employed that lifeline. The first big lesson that I have learned from this whole experience is that eventually everyone will need a lifeline. The second big lesson is that when you need a lifeline, use it!


About By Baylis β2

Ph.D. in mathematics; 40 years as an instructor and administrator in Christiian colleges & Universities; principle writer & initial director of critically acclaimed assessment project "Taking Values Seriously:Assessing the Mission of Church-Related Collges." Currently medically retired on disability due to traumatic brain episode which began with a blood vessel in a brain tumor exploding in March 2009, causing the tumor to implode creating many stroke-like symptoms; the remains of the benign tumor removed in March 2009 followed by many months of intenesive therapy that shifted gears when 4 tonic-clonic seizures in December 2009 left me unconscious in the hospitable for four days. I am now diagnosed with aphasia, epilepsy, Atrial Fibrillation, and the beginning stages of Parkinson's. Since I can't work a normal job in higher education, I spend my days reading, thinking and writing about higher education, epilespsy and aphasia. I have a blog, entitled By' Musings, in which I speak about topics of great interest to me: aphasia, epilesy, Parkinson's, higher education and religion. This blog canl be accessed through the URL of which is included in this profile.
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6 Responses to Bits and Pieces, Part II

  1. Very, very well written. I loved how you closed this post!

    When I was reading these two posts, I had a further question come to my mind. When you are searching for that missing word is it similar to the feeling we get when the word is “right there on the tip of my tongue”, or is it a complete blank for you?

    I enjoy reading your posts. There is so much that your condition can teach us. I applaud you for taking the time to help educate us on what aphasia feels like for your side! Thank you!


    • Tara,

      Thanks for your kind words. After 40 years of working in an environment that depended upon thinking and writing, I enjoy thinking of ideas and writing the blogs. It keeps me occupied and somewhat out of trouble, although some of my higher education blogs have come close to landing me in trouble with certain segments of higher education. The lifeline ending was a spur of the moment thing. As I described seeking or asking for help, I said to myself, “What’s a picture of this that many, if not most people would catch right away. At that point, I pictured the TV show and contestants struggling with choices and the host saying, “Don’t forget your lifelines, Do you want to use one?” Right now, I’m in a tip of the tongue moment, “I can’t remember the name of the TV show or the name of the host. but I remember the scenario well.”

      One thing my experiences have taught me is that we’re really never self -sufficient not mater how independent we try to be. We would all be better off, to recognize that and live co-dependently, OOPS, not the right word. As soon as I wrote it, I recognized it as a bad term from the work that I did years ago, studying values development in college students. I wanted a term to describe a situation where we support each other when we need to, but not overrely on each other which is the connotation of codependency. (After using a life line) I believe the term I was looking for is interdependent.

      The short answer to your question of whether it feels like a complete blank or it on the tip of my tongue, if I could only get it out, is YES. Not both at the same time, but sometimes it is a complete blank and sometimes it almost there. As a trained mathematician, I was always looking for patterns. But in the case, I have not yet discovered any discernable pattern. To be honest with you, the tip of the tongue experience is far more frustrating for me. I want to beat up myself for not knowing or remembering the word or concept. I keep repeating in my mind, and sometimes even out loud, ‘I know that. Why can’t I think of it?” I find the complete blank easier to accept At this point in the journey, I’m not sure why that is the case. Any insights would be most appreciated.

      I trust everyone is surviving the cold weather and keeping warm. It was five degrees with snow flurries here in Michigan today. I’m sitting at my computer, in my warm (?) office, dressed in a mock turtle nec shirt, a flannel shirt over that and a jogging jacket over both of those, sipping on a cup of hot, fake coffee. (caffeine doesn’t play well with my anti-seizure medications. So I haven’t had a cup of real coffee for over a year. So I drink decaffeinated stuff and pretend it’s real.)

  2. I asked about your tip of the tongue or complete loss because, as you know, I have prosopagnosia – a condition where I can no longer recognize faces. I wondered if it was the same. When I see someone, I cannot come up with a name. It is not there at all! I used to know who the people were. Now I can no longer even feel a sense of recognition nor ability to obtain a correct name. Sometimes I wish for the “tip-of-the-tongue” feeling so at least I know the missing information is still somewhere in there!

    You are right though, I suppose that I, too, would feel that to be more frustrating than the clueless feeling I usually experience! 🙂


    • I think I have used this example here. I know I have used it somewhere. When I am in a group setting, I can “recognize” people to a certain extent. I can tell you how I know them. Most of the time, I can tell you what they do and even where they live or work. I just can’t tell you their names. At the viewing of a former colleague, we ran into many other former colleagues. For about half of them, I could come up with a name. For the other half, I could tell you what they did at the university, the location of their office, and approximately how long they had been at the university. I just couldn’t come up with a name. So I had to try to make conversation without addressing them by their name, which is the one thing that is uniquely their own.

  3. Ah yes, and regarding staying warm. We had to come inside early today. Our teeth were chattering it was getting so chilly. It dropped down to 62 around 5 this afternoon. Burrr!

    Yes, I have come a long way from playing outside in the Midwest winters. I admit I am a weather wimp now! 🙂

    • Sunday morning answered a question that I have been asking for the 10 years, that we have owned a minivan. Why I kept thinking of this question, I have no clue. It is not a question of great importance. The question: “Would the thermometer in our van indicate temperatures below zero? The answer is “Yes.” When we started the car to go to church on Sunday morning, the thermometer in the van read ‘- 7″ When church was over and we left to return home, it had warmed all the way up to 10 degrees. “A late January heat wave for Western Michiagn. This morning at breakfast, my wife looked out the window and said it snowed some more last night. Feeling my sarcastic self, I replied, “Well duh, it is winter in Western Michigan.” She asked me, “On what side of the bed did you get up this morning?” I replied, The closest side to me”. I continued by saying , “That’s usually the quickest way to get to breakfast.” She repllied, “Oh, what am I going to do with you?” My quick answer was, “I hope, feed me.”

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