Monday, 24 January 2011

Mental photography

People that are close to me often puzzle themselves over the fact that I remember past events with accurate precision, whilst I forget what I am saying during most sentences. Well, there is a reason for this! My mind is generally so awash with thoughts that I can never finish one sentence before the next thought has evolved into speech. This was later diagnosed as ADHD. Call it ADHD, call it mild autism, aspergers, OCD, or whatever the fuck you like. I think that it makes life infinitely more interesting and I would not change it for a normally functioning brain, not for all the brain cells in Mensa. My memory on the other hand is an extremely well functioning machine, which I constantly challenge with little mind games. From a young age, I developed (of my own accord), a number of little practices to help me remember experiences with all the vividness of the actual event.

The most effective of my memory techniques, was first used in January of 1976 and is something that I have used periodically throughout the rest of my life so far. Let me explain.

After almost 6 years of being the poorest and coldest family in the hamlet of Osbaldeston, my dad informed us that we were moving. We would spend one last Christmas in Sykes Cottage and then head to the Borough of Rossendale soon after. More specifically we would be heading to the village of Helmshore where my dad would have a job working for somebody that he had recently met. As you can imagine, this was all very upsetting for a 5 year old. My little world of Oak trees,hay stacked meadows, babbling brooks and wild adventures in Sykes Cottage garden, was about to be shattered. Not even, the promise of a house with a real bathroom could raise me from my inner sadness, although it helped to soften the blow.

I remember that last Christmas of 1975 with great fondness. As if it were a parting gift from Mother Nature, the snow fell with a whiteness, crispness and beauty that I don't recall ever experiencing again. I sat on the living room window ledge and watched as the snow engulfed all in it's wake. First the path disappeared, next the grass, followed by the surrounding hedge, the garden gate and finally the garden sheds. Like a sponge I soaked it all up, in the knowledge that this was the last time that I was ever going to experience these particular emotions. I expanded upon this thought and decided that I would turn my brain into a camera to capture this moment in time forever. From my window ledge perch I focused on the snow covered wonderland, that was Sykes Cottage garden. To add to the tangibility of this mental process, I then blinked my eyes, as though they were the shutter of the camera. The image was instantly captured and I knew would remain with me for the rest of my life.

Using this technique I have built up an ever increasing photograph album in my mind. Every time I think that I am in a unique location or a time of my life that I wish to capture, I take a snapshot with my mental camera and the image is confined to memory. All I have to do is close my eyes and I can recall that moment with the clarity of the event itself. However, with these pictures comes a depth of reality that a photograph could never capture. I am unsure how you would call this in terms of dimensions, i.e. 3D, 4D, 5D or 6D, but what I do know is that this technique has played it's part in enabling me to relive key moments of my life, whenever I require.

In my life time of travels, when keeping my rucksack to a bare minimum is of up most importance, my mental camera is always packed and ready to go and adds no weight to my journey.

1 comment:

Julia Davies said...

So do you have any mental snapshots fom Korea?