Friday, May 20, 2016

The Mysteries of the Human Mind

Yesterday morning – at 7:30 am – I woke up humming. As my feet touched the floor, I burst into song. This was weird for several reasons: (a) I am not a morning person. Even after a good night's sleep, I am not inclined to greet the sun with song – especially when I'm rising because the alarm clock has gone off and I need to move along or be late; (b) the song I was humming, then singing, was a cheerful little ditty that I remembered from the 70s or 80s, but couldn't remember the name of the group that had sung it; (c) I could only remember the first line and a half of the song and I kept singing that over and over. That song was on an endless loop through my head as I fed the cat and took a shower and dashed out the door to attend an academic workshop.

In an Alfred Hitchcock movie, Shadow of a Doubt, a character is humming a waltz and observes how funny it is that sometimes you can have a tune in your head and then you hear someone else humming the same tune. She wondered if songs might leap from head to head. I wondered if I walked into the workshop I was about to attend, still humming, if the other attendees would one by one become infected until we were all singing a catchy pop song instead of discussing the serious business of course design. Maybe someone else would know all the lyrics, and begin to conduct our chorus. Or, maybe the lyrics would appear on the screen, replacing the speaker's slides.

The question was how I had been infected. I hadn't been dreaming anything that I could remember when I woke. But I had put the television on its timer as I was going to bed to provide myself with background noise as I fell asleep (yes, I know electronics do not belong in the bedroom). The show I had fallen asleep to was "The King of Queens" and Doug was singing at a karaoke club. Maybe he had been singing that song. Or, maybe the fact that he was performing had reminded me of songs from that era and the name "Rosemary" had bubbled up from my subconscious because as I was closing the refrigerator door I had noticed that I still had a package of dried rosemary and wondered if there was a chicken recipe that I could try. And then I had gone off to bed and fallen asleep as someone was singing an old song. . .

The phenomenon of having a song stuck in your head has been the subject of scientific study. After reading the explanation, I am relieved that I am not a chronic sufferer.
Music in head

But I am prone to the "tip of the tongue" phenomenon. We all know that one. The name or the title or the word that is right there, but out of reach. I put it down to my brain being on overload with a jumble of important information and useless facts. Here's some research on TOT

Or have you ever experienced deja vu when you walked into a place that you know you've never been, or in the middle of a conversation that you know you've never had?
Deja vu all over again

When it comes to mysteries, the human mind still challenges investigators. Speaking of which, it's too bad many readers are irritated when writers use a dream sequence to show what is going on in a character's head or to allow him or her to make a vital connection that helps to solve the crime. It happens in real life. How many times have you solved a problem that you fell asleep chasing around in your head? I have to say I like problem solving while I sleep a lot better than waking up with "earworm".


Donis Casey said...

Did you ever figure out what the song was?

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

I found it on Youtube. The group was Edison Lighthouse, and the song was "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes".

Aline Templeton said...

If I've been stuck on a crossword clue, I often wake up with the solution. I'm a great believer in the power of the subconscious - if I can just persuade the conscious mind to shut up for a bit! And now you've mentioned 'Love Goes..', Frankie, I know I'm going to have it on the brain too. Gee, thanks!