Instead of electric blankets, we have electric sheets. If you’ve never tried them, please do! One of the highlights of our day is getting in bed at night, just to feel that head-to-toe warmth. Sally and I both squeal with pleasure!
But in order to make sure our bed is toasty warm at 11pm, I go upstairs and turn on both sides of the dual-controlled sheets at 6pm.
(No…that is NOT where I’m going with this. I NEVER forget to turn on the sheets and I don’t need any reminders or accommodations to make certain I do. Clearly, memory is fine when one is highly motivated!)
So each night at 6pm, I walk up the stairs to our bedroom, turn on the sheets on her side of the bed, place her nightshirt under the covers so it will be toasty warm when she puts it on, and then place 2 pillows on top of the covers to weigh them down so they have contact with the sheets.
Then I walk around to my side of the bed and do the same (except I don’t have a nightshirt).
I am about to leave the bedroom when I stop in my tracks. Did I turn on the sheets on my side? I can see the pillows on top of the bed, but from where I stand, I can’t see the control. I have no memory of turning the sheet on. So I go back and check.
I check the control on Sally’s side–just to make sure–and it’s on, as well.
I wouldn’t be writing about this event now if it were not for the fact that the same thing happened the next night, and the night after, too. With the same result each night: I had turned my sheet on, but had no clear memory of it.
This was very different from the experience I described in my second blog entry (https://mistakesonthejourneytonowhere.com/2020/12/12/peek-a-boo/) where I forgot what I intended to do on the way to doing it. Forgetting that I did something after I had already done it, though, was an error of a different magnitude.
There are many aspects of daily life for which we don’t create episodic memories. Things that are rote, routine, automatic, done without thinking and/or repetitive are not worthy of space in our memory bank. Memory is for experiences that are unique, special, emotional, important and/or worthy in one way or another.
I decided to make this activity important to see if that would make a difference. Instead of automatically going through my routine (and allowing my mind to wander where it would while I turned on the sheets), I made a special effort to stay in the moment. When I clicked on the sheet on my side of the bed, I looked at the control. It registered an ‘8’ on its digital display. There was one red light to the left and 3 red lights to the right.
When I walked out of the room, there was no doubt in my mind that I had turned on the sheet. The image of the digital display was clear and vivid.
So, too, the next night and the night after and the night after that.
. . .
A week later, I had cataract surgery which requires using eyedrops for several days during the recovery period. Sally was my nurse, administering the drops 3 times daily. But one day, she wasn’t available and so I did it myself.
And an hour later, I wasn’t sure that I had…
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