Monday, 21 January 2013


Today feels like a historic day.

Something has happened, which feels like a breakthrough in this process of remembering every day that passes. It comes just as I pass the 400-day mark.

I pin images to my mental calendar as memory tags. These now stretch from the end of 2011 into 2013.

To try to orientate myself better around the calendars I have taken to picturing the year in large flaming numbers with the sheets of the calendar - just like a conventional calendar (specifically the iCal calendar on my MacBook, in fact) - lined up before it. To move from one year to another, it is as if this set up rotates on a large drum so the year I am interested in is on the top.

This possibly sounds more cumbersome than it is. It works well for me. I know that some others who have commented on my posts are using a memory palace approach to remembering dates, where they fill an imaginary building with their memory tags and associate objects with them that represent the dates. My personal preference is for a calendar, particularly as I like the associations it throws up when I think back to what I was doing on the same day in past weeks or the same date in past months or years (exercises I like doing, particularly when out on a run).

This morning I was doing my customary review of the memory tags, which I find essential to entrench them. This involves a two-day window, so I was recalling the tags for every Sunday and Monday since I began this process, each recall taking a matter of seconds.

The first change that happened was I became aware of the spatial position of the image not only on the monthly calendar (Sunday on the right, jumping to Monday on the left on the next line), but the position of the month in the line up in front of the flaming numbers of the year.

What happened next took me by surprise.

In my imagination instead of looking at the calendar, I felt I was standing on it and looking down at the date.

I've become used to this process evolving over time - and being open to where it leads - but in this case I thought, "This isn't going to work, it will be better to have an aerial view of the calendar to better place the position of the date in the year. Standing on it, I loose perspective."

But I found my spatial awareness of the date remained while standing upon it. It was if I moved a step away from the flaming numbers as I continued to pass from week to week in the review. Into June and I could sense half of the year was laid out behind me.

It was as if this realisation convinced me this was the way to head next as this process develops. And so I looked down to my imaginary feet to see the image on the date square on which I was standing.

What happened next was amazing - and is making me tingle now as I type this.

It was as if I fell through the floor on which I stood and entered the scene. I experienced a vivid recall of the moment captured by the image, not just in its physicality, but as if I was there experiencing it again. I was able to remember far more detail about not just that scene, but other things that happened that day, with the same sensation of having stepped back into the scene.

Many years ago when I was keen on meditation (about 1985/1986), I practised recalling a particular scene as vividly as I could and this reminded me of that experience, but it happened naturally.

I then continued through the rest of the review, finding the same thing happened with most of the dates. There were some dates I was not particularly keen to explore again, so restricted myself to the quick reminder of the image without entering into it, but in most cases the experience was as above.

Pausing just now to recall this date a year ago, I find my memory tag for 21 January 2012 allows me to enter the day. The image is sitting in a favourite café with my wife in a town we visit infrequently. But now it runs like a disjointed film. Where we parked. Walking through to the market square. Visiting the tourist office for a guided walk leaflet. The different points of interest we stopped at as we walked around.

This feels very exciting.

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