Escaping my mind

‘‘Just remember,’’ she says before pushing us into the room and locking us in. ‘‘None of the blood you see is real.’’

That’s comforting, I think. The clock is already ticking. 44:50:00

My strategy when it comes to solving escape rooms is to follow my sister’s advice from the first time she took me to one:

‘‘Look for clues!’’

(I know, it’s really elaborate in terms of a game plan.)

‘‘What kind of clues?’’ I asked.

‘‘All of them,’’ my sister replied.

Feeling the pressure, I scour the room, retracing the steps of the other players. The fake blood is not even realistic, but it gives me the heebie-jeebies anyway. Or maybe it’s the antique operating table. I should have thought twice about signing up for the room called ‘’The Asylum.’’ I’m afraid to touch anything.

Before this year’s G7 summit in Charlevoix, our company gave a training course to all journalists who would be covering the event and any potential anti-G7 protests – training on how to deal with situations that might come up. The daylong workshop focussed a lot on situational awareness: are you standing in a safe place? Are things flying overhead? Do you have an escape plan.

To illustrate his point, the instructor showed us a clip form the 2002 film, Jason Bourne.

A week later, while standing in the hallway at work, I walked head first into a camera. My skull made such a loud thud that everyone turned to look and ask if I was okay.

‘‘Remember that situational awareness training I had?’’ I joked as I rubbed my head. ‘‘Looks like I’m going to need more practice.’’

During the workshop, they told us to count stairs to train our minds to think about our surroundings. But an escape room sounded like more fun. For 45 minutes I have to concentrate. I have no smartphone to distract me – I am just in one place, with one single mission, forcing my brain to think one thought at a time, to follow one thought to the end before jumping to another idea.

There is a countdown clock in the corner of the room which is supposed to add another level of stress – it has the opposite effect on me. Know what else has a countdown clock like that? My meditation app. This is the least stressed I’ve been all day.

There is something wrong, I know. I feel like I’m slowly losing my mind. I’m still in my twenties, but I can’t remember a darned thing – ever.

Lyrics to a song I used to like? Or a favourite poem? I’m hopeless. Same thing goes for bands’ names, friends’ birthdays. I don’t know a single recipe by heart. I know nothing by heart.

I have downloaded my memory to my iPhone, which has not only made me dependent on carrying it around, it has left me with a strange feeling of emptiness. My memory muscle has completely atrophied.

I was recently trying to tell a friend about this one time I saw Men with Hats in concert, except I couldn’t remember they were called Men with Hats. And I couldn’t remember the name of their hit single, nor the general melody to hum it! I racked my brain until I finally gave up and Googled it. I feel like I’m going senile – it’s so frustrating.

In a similar vein, recently one of the great loves of my youth whose romance I’d mined for creative inspiration for years was suddenly without a last name. I couldn’t remember my ex’s last name?

This is a problem that needs so much more than meditation apps. In a past blog, I wrote about the modern world allowing many of us to remain young in spirit, mostly by being physically healthy for much longer than our ancestors. But our mental health, on the other hand, is questionable. What does it say about us, as human beings, when we begin to forget large swaths of our personal histories?


What good is a generation that never gets old when we can’t remember the lessons of our youth?