Friday, 29 January 2016

End date

The death of David Bowie 18 months after he was diagnosed with cancer - and the way he used that time creatively - made me think how I would spend my last months in a similar situation.

This prompted me to start an experiment as I can clearly visualise the period of 18 months thanks to this process of remembering every day that passes. I'm imagining that my time runs out half way through next year.

Of course, I don't really believe it will happen so there is an artificiality about the exercise. But when I refresh the memory tags from 18 months ago, I tell myself this is how long I would have. That is the stretch of time to fill.

I am trying to value the days as if they are my last. Spending a bit more time with people I love - and giving them more attention when we are together. Being more cheerful with shop assistants and waiting staff. Doing - or planning to do during the next 18 months - some of the things I've always intended.

This would be my last full year to fill and I'm already approaching the end of the first month. I look to the right and there is the end date I have selected for this experiment.

Something happened today as I ran my refresh technique, recalling two images per month from January 2014 (days 27 and 28 of the month - see the refresh technique link under "about me" for details).

First the years lost their anchor. I've always felt the current year is centrally placed in my mental landscape. I step onto the calendars to my left to go to earlier years. This can be a little disorientating at the turn of the year when everything moves (read about that here). As I've started looking to my notional end date in this experiment, I suddenly thought this calendar is the whole of my life. And it lost its anchor, became detached, floating beneath me as I floated above it in my mind's eye.

Then I thought that my real end date was somewhere there. I couldn't know where the memory tags would stop and I would leave no further mark, but somewhere down there on those months was the transition.

Then it struck me that time would end for me.

My calendar would end. It does not stretch forever to my right, but at the end date, there is no more calendar.

I know the sun will continue to rise after I have gone. There will be people who remember me, at least for a while. But I won't be there.

If I am somewhere, then there is infinity ahead of me and time would lose its meaning - as Amazing Graces says with proper understanding of infinity, "We've no less days to sing God's praise than when we've first begun." Everyone I know, the solar system, the universe itself would pass away. For that to be bearable, the new experience would truly have to be amazing - or how could it be grace and not torture? Days could no longer exist. This life would surely fade into a different perspective, a brief flicker, a different reality, a dream that has passed.  

With that it felt like my calendar was floating in a void, with me far above it. There was my beginning and my end and that was all there was.

This is all obvious, of course. These are the days of our life and we should live them to the full.

Now I have felt it in a new way, thanks to this process and this experiment. It feels profound, but it is still a new feeling and I still have to learn the lessons it brings.

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