Thursday, 1 August 2013

This is how forgetting feels

For the time more distant than six months ago, I simply recall one day per month in my daily reviews.

Both yesterday and today I drew blanks when trying to remember certain dates.

Yesterday 31 August 2012 eluded me. Today, 1 October 2012.

In both cases, I had no problem recalling the memory tags leading up to those dates. I had reviewed them recently. There was similarly no problem looking forward, except 2 October was also a blank.

I used all the techniques I've developed over the past 18 months to find the images pinned to my internal mental calendar, finally settling on not to worry; not trying too hard, but confident that at some point in the day the lost image would return.

Having a blank day niggled at me, all the same.

I was faced with the fear that the blanks would spread to make my calendar the sparsely populated patchwork of earlier years.

In both cases I was saved. The images came to me eventually.

Thinking back at spare moments to 31 August, I was convinced that it was separate from the sequence that led to it: 28 August, I first watched a television program on intermittent fasting; 29 August, I told a friend about it while meeting for a farewell drink before he went on holiday; 30 August, I tried my first fasting day. Later, 1 September my brother came to visit; 2 September we visited some places I easily recall.

In the middle a blank, like the day had not been lived.

It felt like a significant date, not some image of another run or sitting in a café. Then it came to me: it was the day our landlady came to the flat with some prospective tenants. Knowing we moved out less than a month later helped me realise.

There was a similar disconnect with the images for the beginning of October. We moved to my parents' spare room at the end of September. On 3 October I bought my wife's plane ticket home and took her to the airport on 4 October. But what had happened at the start of the week? Blank. On the first review, I let it go and continued.

Several hours later it came to me: we had visited a mall on 1 October and my father fell over. The 2 October, we visited a computer store. Again, it was logic that helped me. I imagined that we had probably been shopping to find items for our trip to my wife's country, or gone out to eat with my parents. The images came back with the familiarity of old friends.

I have yet to complete a full month of this new review procedure. As it progresses, the length of time to when I last recalled the older images will stretch to 30 days. Until recently, every image was refreshed twice every seven days.

If I get through this month without definitively losing images, and start a new cycle, perhaps a new type of familiarity will emerge from the flow of images to make the process easier and self-reinforcing.

That is my hope, for I already experienced how forgetting feels and I don't like it.

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