Monday, 31 July 2017

Time lost

I now have over 2000 days of my mental calendar with memory tags to help me remember them.

As I look back on events over the five plus years since I began this process of remembering every day that passes, it is increasingly striking how much of this time would have faded to nothing. As with earlier years, I may have only retained a sense of the year and a few key events. My sister's wedding and the death of my niece in 2013. Attending the Olympics in 2016. Just a few pegs, rather than 365 or 366 for every year.

Every now and then I feel maybe it is time to let it all go. Today is July 31. How important is it to me to remember what I was doing on this exact same date in past years? Let's see:

July 31, 2012: Taking my parents to see my mother's sister. This turned out to be the last time we saw her.

July 31, 2013: Taking part in a committee meeting - in my memory tag I go around the table and remember everyone who was there.

July 31, 2014: Visiting my parents and making them dinner. My mother has Alzheimer's and at this time it was only just becoming apparent.

July 31, 2015: It's hard to believe that 2015 is two years ago. In fact, all these years seem to fresh to be receding so far. On this day we too two of my wife's sisters for a picnic in a favourite country park.

July 31, 2016: On the way to the Rio Olympics.

And then I realise how important it is not to lose this time. There is pleasure and enrichment to be found when the days are not lost forever. Often when I am having a particularly good day, I think this is special and I look forward to remembering it in the months and years to come.

But this process requires an investment of time, which is time lost from other things. As the days have piled up I have had to adapt the process of reviewing the images pinned to my mental calendar to refresh them. I'll post next time about my current method.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Not dead yet

Anyone who read of the experiment I began in January 2016 of imagining I had 18 months left to live (the period David Bowie had lived after his diagnosis of cancer) may have wondered what happened when the deadline of 29 May 2017 arrived.

Well, I am still here, is the good news.

We were on holiday and it was with a little nervousness that I drove us to our destination on that Monday imagining it could be the last day of my life. It may well end like this - totally unexpected while pursuing other plans.

But I survived and now my mental calendar stretches before me once more, with a possibility of days and no arbitrary end followed by oblivion.

I have refocused during this period and looked at my priorities. I'm trying once again to learn to play a musical instrument, with the aim of being at least able to play a party piece. I've started using some inline skates I bought on a whim a few years ago and had never put on. I even took an online course in comedy and have been writing attempted comedic thoughts as a daily exercise.

I've also reorganised my working life to reduce stress and better manage demands on my time and will likely make a bigger change in career in the coming months.

How much is down to valuing the time I have left due to this death exercise, and Lembransation in total, and how much is just my willingness to reassess and try new things is questionable.

But what is certain is I am not dead yet and the days that are left are to be valued.