Friday, 8 January 2016

Four full years covered with memory tags

Happy New Year! It's 2016.

Another year of my mental calendar has been filled. The year 2015 has a theme of travel between my wife's country and my own, punctuated with elderly relatives suffering with their age (a broken femur, blood pressure out of control and increased memory loss in three of our parents).

It was the year I continued the annual progression in road races to marathon distance, though not in April as planned, due to another injury, but October.

I have still not lost a day, though had an issue with one. The memory tag for 19 February 2013 suddenly eluded me. I tried to tease it out using all the techniques I have developed, but it was gone. In the process, I remembered other things about the day and those surrounding it, so I still had memories to fit into my life story. From these I created a new memory tag to pin to my mental calendar. Perhaps my original choice will come back to me one day, but the tag is not important, it is the memories of the day, for which the tag is just a catalyst.

I changed my review technique a year ago and it has served me well. I have a two-day process. On the first day I recall the images for consecutive days of each month of 2011 - 2013. On the second day, it is two days per month for 2014 to the present, then a run through every day of last 31 days. Today being the 8th January, I have recalled the images for the 7th and 8th of each month from January 2014. Sometimes the sequence switches to start with an even day - it depends on how many days in the month.

I still do a separate more detailed review of the past 6 months, calling up two days per week. It is Friday, so I recall Thursday and Friday of each week since July 2015. But I'm becoming much more relaxed about this. In the past, the windows would overlap: tomorrow my window would be Friday and Saturday. Now I sometimes leave it for a day and dispense with the overlap.

I've not done a memory reboot for a while. This is when I've dumped the longer review and gone for sequential days from the very beginning, covering perhaps three or four months per day until I'm up to date.

But there is something special about going day by day and sometime I interrupt the longer review to go sequentially through a particular month.

The final change this past year is to relax more into the process. I try to see each year as a landscape that is familiar and welcoming, rather than a string of days where I fear the chain breaking.

My aim for this year, my fifth calendar year remembering every day that passes, is to become more adept. I tend to distract myself with interesting memories, then life intervenes and I have to grab another slot of spare time to continue. Then I run the risk of being distracted from the present by trying to complete the review. My hope is to become more confident in the landscape of the year so I can hop through it quickly, firing up and refreshing the memory tags, keeping them fresh and there if I want them.

The process continues to be enriching in so many ways. I cannot imagine returning to living in a fog where I cannot remember what I was doing last week or last month, let alone five years ago.

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