Update 12 April 2019: Here is a brief video by my good buddy David Zupan from Summer of 2018 showing me, David Oaks, perfectly memorizing the order of two shuffled decks of cards (108 cards counting the jokers). As of April 2019, I have done this nine times perfectly, faster and faster. But why?
For one thing, even those of us with extreme disabilities have something to offer. I love this new group Extinction Rebellion, which uses peaceful direct action to resist the climate crisis. They call for global rebellion this Monday, 15 April 2019. Here is XR’s international website.
A few years ago, a blind friend asked me, “Don’t those of us with major disabilities just hurt the environment?” We are part of one of the biggest movements on Earth. Let us help wake up humanity about the value of supportive community, especially when facing overwhelm. Especially now!
Below this video is a blog entry after one my earliest memorizations about why I do this:
5 September 2018
by David W. Oaks
Memorizing Two Decks of Cards: Why?
This morning, one of my main home care workers, Ian, shuffled two decks of cards together a few times and then cut them. Each deck has the usual 52 cards, plus Jokers in both black-and-white and color. So the total number of cards is 108.
Ian laid out 18 at a time, and I memorized their order. He did this six times.
Without looking at the cards again, I then recited all 108 cards, the entire two decks, in the same order, from memory. Ian carefully validated this and my accuracy.
Extreme Disability and the Mind
As my blog readers know, back in 2012 I experienced a severe accident which not only led to me being a quad (tetraplegic) in a power chair, but because of complications I have an impaired voice and no use of my fingers.
Because my mom taught to type when I was about 12, my typing speed was faster than 110 words per minute. Before my accident, I professionally spoke in a dozen nations about human rights and mental health. In my “big picture” planning, which I enjoyed, I loved to sketch big notes on huge pieces of paper.
Now, I realize I need to use my mind, rather than notes, typing, speeches, etc. So I learned to memorize a deck of cards. My understanding is that all of us deck-memorizers use the same ancient memory technique known as the memory palace. I memorized a single deck perfectly about 15 times.
But I wanted to do more. After a few attempts with errors, today I memorized two decks combined.
But We Humans Know So Little!
Sure, I can memorize two decks of cards, but I am reminded of something: The best of current science — whether it is complexity theory, quantum, string theory, dark matter, dark energy — tells us over and over that we humans hardly have any grip on reality, at all.
We are all crazy and mentally disabled, by any definition. Our choice is to be positively crazy or destructively demented.
I hope we all make the best choice. And today, with my amazing wife Debra, we celebrate.
Hey, I just memorized two decks of cards, perfectly!
Because We Know So Little, Let’s Support Each Other!
Yes, I have several physical challenges but my cognitive abilities appear to be fairly intact, I think.
But even if you have major cognitive disabilities, or your loved one is even in a coma, everyone and everything deserve dignity and respect! This week, with the help of Vocational Rehabilitation, I worked with a great business expert, Scott Weaver, to create a business plan, consulting, Aciu Institute.
May I use any cognitive skills, and my awareness of our extreme humility, to help this for-profit benefit our community. May we all launch a revolution to challenge the “normality” of climate crisis!
Please leave your comments on this blog, of any kind, so I know you are out there.