Thursday, 26 February 2015

Lost image - 23 May 2014

I should not have lost this image. It never gave me trouble before when I ran through the images pinned to my mental calendar as memory tags to remember every day that passes.

But when it came up in my review of 23 February 2015, I could not find it. The new review procedure I introduced recently had been going so well. It felt sustainable. It wasn't taking too much time to do.

Then I hit a wall with 23 May. I know it was the following day that usually pulled me up, but I remembered the image for 24 May with no problem. It was the day before my wife took a flight to her country to visit family and we had visited a botanical garden.

The 23rd eluded me and I tried all the tricks I have developed to find it to no avail. I moved on, making a note to find it later.

It still did not come. I spent time the following day trying to recall it, running through the months of April and May day by day until I struck the wall again. The images for surrounding days enabled me to delve deeper into the memories for them. The botanical garden came into vivid colour as I retraced our steps.

But the day before was a complete white out. It unsettled me when I came to do my run through for the 24th and 25th days of each month. I struggled with far more days than is usual.

It felt like the process was falling apart. I had lost my first day and now the rest were slipping away.

I tried to work out whether losing day had knocked my confidence or if  there was an underlying problem affecting my recall, such as my level of tiredness or stress. Could it be something I ate? Had I drunk too much wine recently?

It would not come back. I tried guessing what it might be, seizing on the vague recollection it involved a journey of some kind. The familiar places we visit did not fit. I wondered if I had confused the botanical garden trip and allocated it to the wrong day, but felt sure I was right.

I looked for evidence. In bank transactions. In my running log. I remembered I had sent a text to a friend from the botanical gardens and found it still on my phone on the expected date.

But there were no traces for the lost image. No clues.

I wondered friends were associated with the day and pictured their faces to see if they triggered something.

I told myself yesterday to let it go. It would come back today and I would kick myself.

It struck me while I was shopping. Out of the blue. I turned my thoughts to 23 May 2014 again and there was the image once more, like a puppy I had been desparately hunting sitting at my feet, wagging its tail with no conception of my concern.

I knew why it had returned.

The image was of a picnic with friends and their young daughter. Although I had pictured them as candidates for the image before, it was in a different context. It hadn't triggered the recall.

But five minutes earlier I had called them to discuss meeting up.

Without any conscious effort the image was clear on my mental calendar when I next looked.

I checked through my texts to my friend and there was the exchange on where we were meeting. Confirmation.

Now the image has returned, I've tried to connect it more strongly to the surrounding days. Adding the word 'plants' when I think of the picnic and the botanical garden provides a bridge.

I have found when I struggle to find a lost day, it is unlikely to be lost again.