muscle memory

it’s interesting how muscle memory works. or, if not muscle memory (a term i just grabbed because it seemed appropriate without knowing anything about the actual scientific usage of said phrase) then the way your body remembers things that, intellectually, you probably couldn’t possibly keep straight.

very close to nightly i quietly enter and exit our kids’ bedroom to put our daughter to bed. our son is already sleeping. many times it’s pitch black, the room lit only by a dim, mostly concealed night-light (which, if nothing else, serves as a sort of lighthouse that i use to gauge where her crib is). often, it’s the middle of the night and i’ve been holding her, waiting for her to go back to sleep, and reading stuff on the computer, so my eyes haven’t yet adjusted to the darkness. and yet, as i make my way through their room, away from the crib and my lighthouse, i manage to find my way to the door (mostly without knocking things over or bumping into things) and, more importantly, find the door handle.

the last part is what i’m most interested in. sure, i can fathom counting steps, turning left or right when appropriate, a pattern that can be memorized. but the way my hand almost immediately finds the door handle in total darkness interests me. is it a matter of making minute, unrecognized adjustments as i’m reaching? or is it that some part of my animal brain knows exactly where the handle is located and finds it automatically?