Our memories are weird things. Some people can’t remember anything, others remember everything. I’m probably more of the latter, although I lament that a bit (I can more readily recall bad memories instead of good ones).
But what actually makes a memory? I’m not talking the biologics of it
because I’m too lazy to look it up rather the elements of why we remember certain events or places. And what has really struck me lately is how bad we are at remembering things!
Social media has taken the effort out of remembering things. We have Facebook/Instagram as repositories for all of our trips and pictures, which take very little effort to find. Even family pictures are mostly digital these days, easily indexed for quick retrieval when warranted. While this is incredibly convenient, it’s made us lazy. We no longer have to expend effort to remember things or experiences. Memory is like a muscle, if you don’t exercise it it will waste away.
Take the sunset picture above, from the incredible Amanpuri resort in Phuket, Thailand. I have a copy of that hanging in my bedroom and see it almost every day as I’m getting ready for Real Job. But when was the last time I thought about the humidity of Thailand, the experience of waking up in my own little cabana and walking out into the sun and feeling the breeze roll in from the Andaman sea? In other words, the picture can remind me how it looked, but I had to use my memory to remember how it felt.
Take a few minutes and put your phone away. Turn off the music. Punch that annoying coworker to get them to shut up for a bit (legal note: Andy’s Travel Blog, Andy, or any agents thereof do not accept any liability should you choose to take that last bit of advice). Think back to an incredible trip or incredible experience you’ve had.
- How did you feel going into it? Were you nervous? Excited?
- What was your favorite part of preparing for that experience?
- When you finally made it to the destination or arrived at the thing, what was your initial reaction? How did it smell? How did it feel? How did you respond to it, was it different than you were imagining?
- What was your favorite part of that place/thing? Why? Were you looking forward to it and it lived up to expectations or were you caught totally off guard?
- What was the best smile you saw when you were there?
- What was something that made you laugh?
- What didn’t live up to expectations? Why not?
- What was your favorite smell?
- What tasted the best?
- What surprised you the most?
- What felt the best?
Involve your senses. Go past the pictures and put yourself back in that place. Remember what you were doing and why. This will be a challenge, but that’s ok. Not all things or trips require this amount of dedication to remember because not all things are worth remembering. Save these super memories for the things that really matter in life.
I know from the sheer fact you’re reading this on a travel blog that you’ll probably default to remembering a trip, and that’s ok, but use this exercise for special family moments, accomplishments, really whatever you want to remember better. There is a limit to what social media or a picture can capture for us, the rest is up to us.
Rant over. I hope this gives you pause and rekindles some incredible memories for you and your family!