Old age

Bankable moments

Margie’s face was flushed, her eyes glistening as she held back tears of joy.

“Wait! STOP!” she blurted out, grabbing  my hand in one of hers and Heather’s in her other.

“Hold hands and Shhhhhhhh!” 

We stood there on the pavement, the bemused crowds exiting the theatre parting around us like a stream flowing around an immovable rock.

It was a rare blue-sky day in London with only a few cotton-wool clouds  scudding by (cumulonimbus for those of you that paid attention in Geography class). Time momentarily slowed as we both watched Margie close her eyes and inhale deeply. We looked at each other, then back at Margie – three grown adults, stopped dead in a crowd, holding hands in a circle. There was no self-conscious awkwardness – having all grown up as friends since early teenage years the deep affection between us transcended distance, age and social norms – if our friend Margie wanted to stand and hold hands then we would do just that for as long as she wanted us to.

After a few more deep breaths, Margie opened her eyes and proclaimed

This is a “bankable moment”

She realised from the quizzical looks on our faces that an explanation was necessary – we had never heard of a “bankable moment” before.

Margie went on to describe the concept as “a memory you bank in the moment to withdraw at a later stage when you need it”.

Her technique involved focussing on every aspect of the memory to lock it into your personal memory bank-

  • stand still
  • close your eyes and concentrate
  • take a deep breath
  • take in the sounds
  • take in the smells
  • let the emotions wash over you
  • remember how you feel at that exact moment

We had just spent the last few hours together in the West End watching Mamma Mia – the songs ripping us right back to our teenage years together with the ladies having laugh-out-loud moments as they remembered belting out the tunes to their hair brushes while carousing around the dorm rooms in Ixopo – I was excluded from that particular flashback as much as I would have loved to have caroused around the girl’s dorm room I never did sing to my hairbrush …….. The show was energising and uplifting and transported us back to a time and place that no longer physically exists in the same way as we remember but will forever be immortalised in our memories.

I will never forget that day. We were high on a shared euphoria and in that moment Margs gave me a gift for which I will be eternally grateful – the gift of my first “bankable moment”.

Since then, I’ve gone out of my way to “bank” a few moments of my own – some of them were simply family occasions with all of us laughing around the dinner table (food is our family’s most common catalyst for shared enjoyment) – I’ve looked around and held my breath – drinking in the sights, the expressions on everyone’s faces, savouring the food in my mouth, paying attention to the warm glow – and locked that in. Some were more profound – feeding my father breakfast as he sat ravaged by alzheimer’s, incapacitated in his wheelchair in the old age home with the life ebbing out of him – the realisation that soon I wouldn’t have him in my life anymore, but never wanting to forget the man that he was and will forever be in my memories. Others have been a celebration of being alive and sharing my life’s journey with my closest friend and deepest love – standing on the brim of Mt Vesuvius, gazing out over Pompeii in the distance, hugging Heather close to me with my head buried in her hair – awash with amazement at how far we had come together since I held her close for the first time after stealing our first kiss on the no-man’s land between the rugby and hockey fields at Ixopo High school …………

We all have days when we struggle with life.

When nothing seems to be going our way.

When the odds seem to be overwhelmingly stacked against us.

It’s at times like these when we need to dig deep into our memory banks – to relive those moments that matter – to feel alive once more and to be grateful for the good times we’ve had and contemplate the opportunities to have more in the future.

If you’ve not banked any moments before today, take Margie’s advice – it’s never too late to start.