Monday, 2 August 2010

Does a week have a shape? Do days have colours? My calendar epiphany.

Sundays are rectangular, and a soft golden colour. Mondays have square edges, and are pale blue. Tuesdays are slim and turquoise. Wednesdays are wide, and sometimes orange. A week looks, from the side, like an oval, flattened top and bottom, but curving and plunging in three dimensions, like a length of convoluted swimming-pool pipe, joined end to end.

Does this sound like gibberish to you?

I don't blame you if it does. But to me, it makes perfect sense.  Ever since I first imagined the concept of a week made out of seven days - and I should imagine this was around the age of five - I've had a firm image in my mind of the shape, size and colours of a week (and of a year, a decade and a century). 

This mind-map of a week isn't something I'd ever thought about consciously, until a few weeks ago, when I realised that my abysmal date-remembering, time-managing and diary-keeping efforts were becoming a bit of an embarrassment.  Business meetings I am usually able to honour, but I am useless when it comes to keeping track of term dates, public holidays, birthdays, dentists' appointments, sports days and the myriad small events involved in keeping a family ticking.

I'm not senile, deranged or dyslexic. But I am, I admit, useless with diaries. I gave up keeping any sort of formal paper diary three or four years ago, because there seemed no point.   Every crisp new planning diary I've opened since 2006 has been abandoned around the beginning of February, even after I've dutifully filled in term dates, public holidays and birthdays.  No matter how hard I try, I just can't make sense of the grids and blocks that represent weeks, months and years: they're too square, too griddy and too linear.

So how do I keep track?  I keep appointments in my mind, placing them, in order, on the oval hosepipe. Not a foolproof method, I know, so my backup is to jot every appointment, note, date and phone number on a Post-It Note. My desk, keyboard and PC monitor are confettied with Post-It Notes. All very well, until a gust of wind blows through my study doors and... well, you get the picture.

So here's my epiphany: I made a pencil drawing of  a week, as I've always seen it in my mind. It's not an accurate representation of how I see a week in three dimensions - the Tuesday is the wrong shape, Friday's roof is too high, and there are no colours - but it's good enough for me.  I printed out 30 copies of this, filled in the dates, clamped them together with bulldog clips, and came up with a makeshift diary that works for me. The centre of the oval is filled in with my tasks for the week, and appointments and notes are marked with highlighter pens and tiny sticky paper arrows. For the first time in five years, I'm able to make sense of the flow of time.

And I promise you I'll be there to meet you next Thursday (pale green, and sometimes yellow, with a slightly astringent taste) at nine-fifteen on the dot .

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Anonymous said...

There is a name for this. It is called synesthesia.

Muriel said...

Weirdly, my week has precisely the same shape (minus the colours, but some days do have textures), but it runs clockwise.

My year is a backward 'J', with January at the top, August/September on the curve, October at the bottom and December at the tail.

Johann said...

What a very fabulous concept! Your time now FLOWS, as oppposed to a linear succession of days in a conventional diary. No doubt some clever dick will in future invent a 3 dimensional hologram that we will be able to turn and touch and organise.
Well done Muriel! Now please tell us how you see financial commitments - money in short. For that, when it crashes into time, is where I lose the plot.