Tip of the sword

Tip of the tongue phenomenon: when you have a specific word in mind, but can’t recall it. Like a masked villain, the word scampers from your custody at the critical moment. You scour the city. The word evades pursuit. You plead with a friend to name it. You reach for a thesaurus. The tension builds.

There’s a similar, less-researched, but equally common mental state: tip of the sword phenomenon. This is when you have a specific dragon to slay, some crucial action you must take, but can’t put your finger on what exactly it is. Over drinks, you complain to your mates. They guess wildly at what the problem might be: maybe you need to take a vacation. Exercise more. Find a new job. No, you say. That’s not it. Not exactly.

Homo sapiens have been around for a hundred thousand years, and yet we’ve found only one reliable cure for tip of the tongue, tip of the sword: long walks.