Monday, 8 April 2019

So many days, so many years

I'm now over seven years into this process of remembering every day that passes, having started on 17 December 2011.

I've had to adapt the refresh process to review the images pinned to my mental calendar, but I still aim to revisit each day once per month.

Sometimes an image evades me now. But, even so, I do not accept they are fully lost, because on a subsequent run-through, I've had them come back to me with a flash of endorphins and relief that pins them more firmly to the calendar for next time.

This process has changed my concept of time. Many of these years are so long ago that, save for this process, the whole year would be largely lost to me. If I choose a year before I began – let's say 2009 – I can work out where I was and what I was doing in that year and, if I think about it, maybe remember some specific events, some of them vividly. But the images are sparse. What did I do on my birthday that year? My wife's? My mother's? I have no idea and, if I do scratch up a memory, then I'd have no certainty it was for that year.

I can answer that question for every year since I began this process. Of course, I only easily remember the images pinned to my mental calendar. Sometimes these will open a door to much more regarding both the event represented and the rest of the day, but often, they are all I have left. After all, as I write this, there are 2,669 days stretching behind me.

The most curious – and even disturbing – aspect of having these memories and revisiting them as I do, is the shock at how long ago these years are. I will recall an event at, say, the Olympics in 2016 and it seems staggering that was almost three years' ago.

As I have carried these days and years with me, like no others, there is a freshness to them that makes it hard sometimes to separate one year from another. In the normal scheme of things, the fading of our memories perhaps gives us a sense of how long ago a time was.

1 comment:

  1. I first found this blog about 3 years ago, in April 2016. I remembered about it today on 19 June 2019 and decided to check it out again. I am glad the experiment continues.

    I found it fascinating and I actually tried to remember a whole month from April 2016 to mid May, day by day sequentially. I could remember clearly all days if I started from the first day, but would have trouble remembering only a particular day. I can actually still remember some days now from that period even if I haven't re-memorized them. I decided to keep another form of remembering, by keeping a journal (from 2013) where I mark most of the relevant activities, feelings or ideas that I had on a particular day. Not every day of the year, but about 1/3.

    Reading statements from 3 or 4 years ago is fascinating. It clearly illustrates as my thinking and perception about certain subjects has changed over time. It is a little weird, since I don't actually feel that much different, or that my perception of the world changed that much. I am aware that certain perceptions have changed, but reading from previous years puts things in a whole other perspective and makes me more aware of how I've changed as a person.

    Q1: Has this happened with you, when revisiting memories, do you feel you have changed as a person and actually be aware of the changes (good or bad)?

    Writing a journal does not actually help me with my memory, but actually seems that I loose memories easier (probably because I know I can retrieve them from the journal). The important ones don't seem to be lost forever (the memories) but are hard to bring to surface, depending on the context and environment. Most other days are blanks.

    I will try again to remember more, and keep a mental map of the days that passed. Maybe not all, but at least some of them.

    Q2: Has this helped you with short-term memory? What about long term, is it just as hard to remember things or is it easier? Or does only the structure of the memories that helps with remembering?

    I hope you continue with the experiment. And maybe after some more years actually publish a book on the subject.