Saturday, 13 April 2013

Not so surprising

Ever since I began this process of remembering every day that passes at the end of 2011, I have been repeatedly surprised at how long ago - or how recently - certain events took place.

I'd think of an image used as a memory tag on my mental calendar in my regular reviews and there would a frisson of surprise at where it fitted in to my timeline.

I know I am not alone in finding the passage of time confusing.

Often in conversation, family and friends will comment on the same thing, particularly as I am now more likely to be able to say precisely when a particular event took place. "Was that really last year? It seems like yesterday." And the opposite.

However, more recently, this feeling has disappeared. I am no longer surprised.

It was initially a conscious decision. A particular image took me by surprise and I reminded myself that I know very well that the event took place a year ago. This seemed to liberate me. Suddenly I had to accept I know where the images fit in their correct place.

It reminds me of learning to juggle.

I found the secret to learning to juggle many years ago (okay, 1987, seeing as I can place it) - enabling me to teach many others to do simple three-ball juggling: think of one aspect at a time. For example, throwing the ball from my right hand so it peaks at a suitable height and falls towards my left hand, without worrying about catching it. Then switching focus to getting rid of the ball that is in my left hand so I can catch the first ball. Ideally that ball should follow an arc to my right hand, but I don't worry about that: dropping the ball is fine. Then focus on catching the first ball in my empty left hand. With each step I told myself I didn't need to worry about the previous ones as I had already demonstrated to myself that I had mastered them.

Following this process, the day came when I had progressed through all the required steps and could juggle. At the outset I would have to focus in again on a particular aspect to sort out shortcomings, but with time it took no conscious thought at all.

So I know how the images on my mental calendar are arranged. I have put in the effort at developing ways to remember those that are elusive. It should no longer surprise me they are in order, that particular events took place when they did.

And it seems I am no longer surprised.

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