Lately, I’ve developed a (bad?) habit of going back and re-reading my blog posts from the dim and misty, which often leads me into a ridiculous downward spiral about how hey, I used to be able to write and stuff. But my fingers aren’t broken, so surely I still can. Let’s give it a go, shall we?
So I was sitting around last Friday night, happily at home, listening to the Psychedelic Furs and Elvis Costello and reflecting on my action-packed past couple of months. As usual, I’ve got a fairly good-sized set of memories of great days and nights, and also as usual, I’m already having difficulty placing them in time.
A couple of months ago, at Ignite Berlin, I did a talk about the inadvertent time machine that is my brain (sorry, the video cuts off midway through. For a description of the rest, see this very kind blog post). Since then, I’ve had several conversations about this - more people than I would have thought suffer from some level of my disorder or whatever you want to call it, and one in particular seems to experience time (or fail to) in almost exactly the same way I do(n’t). The thing is, I’m starting to see that there’s a good side to this as well as the side that leads to hilarious social fuck-ups and general confusion.
The good news is that this slippery grasp on time makes it in many ways easier for me to inhabit my life. Because of my ongoing problem with geographical commitment, at any given point many of the people I’d most like to see are hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Technology helps with this, sure - there’s Skype and Facebook and SMS and good old-fashioned voice calling - but there’s really no substitute for being in a room with someone. And the fact that the last time I saw you might have been yesterday or two years ago, as far as my weird time sense is concerned, makes that far easier to manage. I tend to run at a fairly furious pace (albeit with much-needed periods of lying very very still in between), and patience has never been one of my virtues. So the slipperiness of time keeps me, sometimes, from running myself too far into the ground trying to keep up with the people I care about. Then again, it also sometimes has the opposite effect. Sometimes I don’t realise that I haven’t dropped someone a line in far too long, because I’ve been thinking about them a lot and it feels like we just saw each other last week - when in fact I haven’t so much as heard their voice in years, let alone met their three-year-old.
Where things get really tricky is when I meet new people I like. Those I’ve known for years know how I work, I know how they work, and they’ll understand where I’m coming from even if my communication patterns are a little eccentric. But new people? They don’t know, and it’s not easy to warn them. When I discover any new thing I’m interested in, my brain instantly starts making connections between it and everything else I’m interested in, and people I know, and etc. etc. and it all gets a little compulsive. A few years ago, I developed a moderately-sized obsession with light pollution that made several of my friends consider killing - or at least gagging - me. (Sorry, guys.)
And it’s not all that different with people. Because my memory is strange and unpredictable, I create an organic web of connections for every new person that I’m intrigued by - to interests, topics, other people, places, buildings, beverages, whatever - that provide me with some sort of anchor. It’s not so much whether I’ll remember your name (chances are I won’t), I’m more interested in having a picture of whatever it was that we connected on. Depending on the extent of the connection, this could become a rather large and somewhat tangled web, and the same compulsive tendencies apply. How do I explain this to people? Unsuccessfully, usually. Things do eventually settle into a rhythm; everything does. But that takes time, and because I’m wildly impatient, I want the shape to emerge, like, *now*.
I’ve been thinking I need to write a lot more about this time/memory/interpersonal connections thing. This has been a very rambling beginning, or more accurately a picking up in the middle.. A friend suggested as much the other night - well actually what she said is, “YOU MUST WRITE A BOOK ABOUT THIS.” I’m not sure about that - the idea of writing for bound, printed publication still kind of paralyses me - but I grant that it merits more exploration. So I’m going to give it a shot.
That is all. For now.