On Dec 21, 2020 by FiveTies
In my years of reading, I keep coming across these types of sentences:
I never quite understood what these sentences meant. Well, at least not until I had experienced so much of life that one day, I suddenly realised that I had lived ten thousand days, and I cannot remember every day or even every month. I only remember special moments. Only certain memories stand out. And these memories are what keeps me buoyed in the sea of life.
I remember my first boyfriend. He was fair, lanky, had tiny eyes and one crooked tooth which gave his face a lot of character. I remember my grandmother’s sweet, black coffee which she served in an enamel mug in her dilapidated kitchen in Labis, Johor. I remember my mother sick on her bed, weeping because she knew she would never get better. I remember my dog, Barry, that I had to take care of, cleaning his pus-filled mouth every night.
Good and bad memories.
Why does my brain remember all these things? What are memories made of? Why is it that a word, a song, a smell brings to mind times of yesteryears? I suppose, memories are all we have. In a world that is fleeting, memories become an anchor for ourselves in the different times of our lives. In a way, memories make us who we are. They are so much a part of our identity.
So, I wondered, how do I create more lovely moments so that my life becomes more memorable for me and perhaps for others around me? At FiveTies, an organisation dedicated to helping people have wellness, closure and increased happiness with lasting memories, we are constantly talking about how we can create this for people. We genuinely believe that leaving memories for our loved ones is akin to leaving them history.
I recently watched the movie The Monuments Men, a 2014 war movie directed by George Clooney. The movie is loosely based on a non-fiction book that depicts how an Allied group from the “Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program” was given the task of finding and saving pieces of art and other culturally important items before Nazis could destroy or steal them, during World War II. I was particularly moved by this phrase that the lead character played by George Clooney said, “You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they'll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it's as if they never existed.”
So, helping people preserve memories is important to us. But what memories can we preserve? There are several categories of memories which are perfect for us to tuck away in a video or in photos to be given as a gift of lasting memories.
1) First experiences
2) Beautiful sights, sounds and scents
3) Life’s peaks and valleys
4) Key learnings from life experiences
These are so powerful. Cuddling your first pet, your first time in kindergarten, getting the keys for your first car, holding your first baby. All these memories evoke powerful emotions in you. And these are also important stories to be told to your loved ones. Record your loved one’s first experiences, too, because you shared it with them. These are what form part of the fabric that holds you together.
Beautiful sights, sound and scents
I remember that glimpse I caught of the UNESCO world heritage Nærøyfjord of Norway: the beauty of water flanked by steep cliffs carved by glaciers, as well as the icy cool wind in my hair. I was absolutely blown away.
How about you? Do you remember the sound of the ice cream man coming around the corner, and the taste of the tart lemon ice that your mother bought for you? Or the smell of freshly baked chocolate cookies your grandmother made every time you went to visit her? These beautiful memories bring nostalgia.
NOTE: Interestingly, the word nostalgia is Greek for nostos (return) and algos (pain). A return of pain. Well, in a way, memory is bittersweet, something that happened in the past, never to happen again.
Life’s peaks and valleys
Most of us go through life having experienced both great happiness and utter despair. Sharing those happy experiences can double your joy. Sharing the sad ones can be cathartic for you and may even provide some solidarity to others who go through something similar.
I personally do not believe that one should only share happy memories. This is because all memories maketh a man. My friend Charlie told me of his horror when he found out that his wife had 4th stage cancer, and how he wanted to preserve those memories for his children because they were still so young at that time. He believed that they would appreciate it because they were too young to remember.
Key learnings from life experiences
While we are navigating through our own lives, we more often than not make mistakes so that we can learn from them. But if we can avoid those pitfalls, simply listening to those who came before us, who have gone through similar experiences, and are willing help us because they love and know us best. Many parents want to share their key life learnings with their children to help them have a better life. I wish that my father could have given me some of his wisdom before he passed on. He thought that he was going to live a long life. Unfortunately, he didn’t. So sometimes, it is best to curate all these things early on, so that we can pass them on to the next generation.
All these memories are precious. Create more stunning ones along the way and share them with those who need and appreciate them. Your life is worth sharing, your story worth listening to. What do you want to be your lasting words?