02/18/2007 08:06 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Search Engine for the Brain

Where the hell is my favorite hair clip? The black velvet one I bought in China while visiting my son? I remember taking it off, but it's not in its usual place. Methodically I scan every surface, open each drawer. Material possessions don't merit this kind of frenzy, but what drives me nuts is the mystery. Like... why can't I find a piece of paper I was just holding in my hand? I can feel it, see it, I had it two seconds ago and now it's gone, as if vaporized.

Things disappear. I know this from research I did for my book that's being published right now, Leap! What Will We Do with the Rest of our Lives? Experts tell you there are techniques and pills to sharpen your memory but I think that's a shameless lie. Counselors tell you to relax and let it go, you probably don't need the damn thing anyway. This is part of the wisdom and freedom that come with age. Ha.

Writer Dan Wakefield is convinced that items we can't find slip into a fourth dimension, or alternate time stream. I know a nuclear physicist who asserts this as well. Maybe they're right. My mother has a friend who lost a leg of lamb she was defrosting. She and three other ladies searched her apartment inch by inch, opened every cupboard, lifted every dish to no avail. Is that leg of lamb being chewed on somewhere in the fourth dimension?

I'd like to have a beeper for the things that keep disappearing, like my glasses and my purse. A button like the one on cordless phones. If you forget where you put down the headset, you push a button on the console and the phone beeps, leading you to it like a heat-seeking missile. Why can't we attach such a device to our coffee mugs and keys?

While contemplating this as I brush my teeth, I drop an empty toothpaste tube into the wastebasket and catch sight of something black and shiny. The hair clip? Oh, great joy! But what's it doing in the trash? Okay, the last time I took it off, I must have been thinking about something else and dropped it in the trash along with a Kleenex.

The fix for this is being mindful--focusing on what you're doing while you're doing it. No multi tasking, no thinking or dreaming about anything else but brush brush brush when you're cleaning those teeth.

I'd rather have beepers, and while we're at it, I'd like a search engine for the brain. When I can't remember a fact or quote for a piece I'm writing, I just type it into Google. But when trying to remember a person's name or whether I slept with him 30 years ago....if only there were a chip that could be embedded in our brains. We'd just pose the question in our mind and say, "Search." This is going to happen, rest assured, and I invite you, dear reader, to imagine the consequences.

To contact Sara Davidson or read an excerpt from Leap! please visit