Brain Burps


My son was involved in the JROTC program all four years of high school. It has been an exceptional program that helps mold the students into mature, responsible adults. Colonel Gammon and Sergeant Dixson have done an outstanding job in teaching self-sufficiency and independence. The morals and values they have taught will carry the students throughout their lives.

It has been quite an education and learning process for me, as well. I’ve tried to familiarize myself with the military lingo and basic understanding of their format along the way. In spite of my effort to try to stay abreast, I made a faux-pas once in an effort to get more understanding about an upcoming JROTC event. I asked my son a particular question about it and he wasn’t sure of the answer. I said, “Why don’t you just ask Sergeant Carter?” My son said, “Mama, he’s from Gomer Pyle!” I was as stunned as my son that it had fallen out of my mouth. We both broke up laughing. What a “brain burp” that was. I had burped up a name that had been residing in the recesses of my mind for over thirty-plus years. (That was without ever watching reruns on TV Land.)

Our minds are mysteries—so complex and interesting. Our memory systems are to be marveled. We all have massive amounts of information that hibernate in our long-term memory bank. So, I decided to go on a trek for understanding and to delve further into the mysteries of our minds. What makes a word suddenly rise to the surface after having been stored for several decades? The recovery of stored information is the crucial element of memory. However, the accurate retrieval of it depends on the proper success of the original acquisition and its storage. In addition, imagery is a powerful aid in our recall system. Obviously the image of Sergeant Carter yelling at Gomer in the barracks had been resting in a cave in my mind just waiting for the cue to spill forth.

Now that we have some understanding of our complex memory system, let’s examine the other end of the spectrum—losing our concentration. My mother and I were having a conversation in her den. The television was on in the background. In mid-sentence, she suddenly turned away toward the TV and became absorbed in a commercial for “bladder leakage.” (If you know what I mean.) Figuring it was not that important, I continued our chit chat saying, “So… where would you like to go for lunch?” She turned her head away from the TV and looked straight at me and calmly said, “Poise Pads.” The stunned look on her face upon hearing her senseless response was priceless. What is it that causes our minds to start meandering?

The newest research has found that it takes one section of the brain that starts to concentrate and another to be distracted. Earl Miller, a neuroscientist, said, “This ability to willfully focus your attention is physically separate in the brain from distraction things grabbing your attention.” It all transpires in the neural circuits of our brain that control our eye movements. We live in a fast-paced world of visual stimuli that makes it increasingly more difficult to stay focused. I think my mother willfully looked away in order to drink in the beautiful concept of Poise Pads.

So… in essence, it’s an accepted fact—a certainty—that words such as Sergeant Carter and Poise Pads will reside in our fascinatingly complicated minds to be brought to the forefront in the form of “brain burps.” The consolation is that we’re just being human. Of course, the names of the people who have made a difference in our lives– like Colonel Gammon and Sergeant Dixson– will leave lasting impressions that will always reside on the forefront of our minds.   Hunter Darden-personalized copies of my books may be ordered by scrolling to the top of the page and clicking or email me at


About Hunter

Hunter has been living her dream of being an author after falling in love with the Nancy Drew Mysteries in the fourth grade. She has incorporated her love for words along with her psychology degree from Meredith College to create books that can be aids in healthy nourishment for the mind. She is the author of five children's books, a photography book and a novel. She has been a human interest columnist for The Charlotte Observer (2001-2005) as well. She was the recipient of the "50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading" by The Author's Show, the Meredith College Career Achievement Alumnae Award and the Excellence in Creative Writing Award by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. She is a public speaker and teaches a writing camp for kids called Writer's Cramp Camp. (The animated art on this blog is provided by
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