Thursday, 12 June 2014

Lost image: 30 April 2014

I lost the image for 30 April 2014 yesterday.

It was strange because I knew it was a corker. It sat within a sequence of images that were still clearly visible on my mental calendar. But Wednesday was a white out. Nothing.

It was also strange because that week had been one I could run through quickly in my reviews. The images were related to each other somehow.

But the day had dropped out of my sequential review of past days on 30 May. Now it is only included when I came to look at past Wednesdays over the previous 6 months each Wednesday and Thursday (see the link at the side for my refresh technique).

Yesterday was Wednesday, so I ran through the Tuesdays and Wednesdays since 11 December 2013. I came to 30 April. Nothing. I had not yet built the associations with days a week apart.

Returning to reviewing the whole week as I was used to, did not help. I was able to remember certain things about that day. In the evening I had looked at hotels to stay near my brother who I planned to visit at the weekend.

But that was not the tag.

The day before I had a meeting about a website I was working on. But the website wasn't in my memory tag for Wednesday, I was sure, although there was some connection.

I didn't sweat it, but moved on to my longer review of a day per month from January 2011. That was fine.

I was expecting the image to pop into my head at some point unprompted, as is often the case, but it had still not done so by the time I was going for an evening run. I was starting to wish I had moved the images into a written record when they dropped out of the sequential daily review of the past month. But I knew that being forced to remember would help to reinforce the memory better than cribbing off a written record.

So I did what I have done several times before in this situation: I ran through the whole month starting on 1 April. I was a little apprehensive as I approached the blank day as nothing was coming immediately to mind. But in the end the associations worked and it came back to me in a flash.

I had been booking the hotel to stay near my brother as we had met for lunch that day. While I was waiting for him, I had been meeting a deadline for filing some documents. That had been the association with my meeting the day before about the website project: getting things sorted.

Image tag: Wednesday 30 April 2014, completing documents while waiting at a café for my brother.

So now it is back and, hopefully, the fact I had to struggle to remember it this time, will make it easier next time.


  1. Your memory calendar project is fascinating and inspiring. I'm curious about the lost image from this post. Let's say that you had failed to recall the image and it never came back to you. Would that have actually resulted in you forgetting details about the day itself? My understanding from your blog is that your images serve as a convenient reminder to place yourself and recall what you were doing on a particular day, but then your "natural memory" takes over and fills in many details. If that's the case, does the image itself matter much?

    What if, having failed to find the image, you had created a new image based on looking at hotels for your brother (which you say you still remembered). Then, some time months or years in the future somebody asked you where you had eaten dinner on that day (a fact which appeared in neither image). Would it be harder or impossible to recall? I assume that you can often recall such facts for days where you do still remember the original image.

  2. Hi Ben, thanks for your question. If I had failed to retrieve this image, then I would have had to construct a new one. However, I am pleased that I have not had to do that so far. I suspect part of the long-term success of this project will be retrieving the specific memory tags, because associations build between them. Firstly, between images on consecutive days, then the same day of each week, then the same day of each month, as my review process becomes less frequent. To date, the various techniques I've developed have enabled me to retrieve the specific image I had chosen.

    The memory tags do serve as an entry point to other details of the day, as you say. I sometimes find it surprising how much else is stored away when I dive into a particular day. However, it is not perfect and a lot of details don't stick – I rarely make a point of remembering what I ate and generally cannot find this information when I think back to a day.

    I do find I can sometimes search and find details that I had not made a point of remembering, as in this example from early on in this process: