Sometimes when you stumble across an artifact of your past in some dusty file folder it makes you realize how far you've come. Other times it reminds you that you are exactly the same now as you always were. "Memorize this List" belongs to the second category. It's a fading, crumpled sheet of paper dotted with numerous push pin holes from when it was tacked on kitchen bulletin boards of assorted apartments. I was in my mid-twenties when I wrote it, and I don't remember the specific stimulus. But I can still relate to my original objective. I was trying to teach myself tact. When I heard something I disagreed with, I wanted to be able to come up with an alternative to my usual "That's ridiculous!" I still do. I'd like to think that things strike me as ridiculous now less often than they did when I was 25. But I'm glad I kept the list:
Memorize this List
* What led you to feel that way?
* That's an unusual point of view.
* I never thought of it that way before.
* You may well have a point.
* Hmmm …
* You could be right.
* I see your point.
* I think you just put your finger on it.
* Is that right?
* Tell me more about that.
* I can certainly see what you mean.
* I can see why someone might think so.
* You must have had a hard day.
* That's certainly a bold theory.