Top Three Reasons Memories Are Better Than Things

I’m a little more emotional and sentimental than most people – always have been, always will be. So, to those who know me well, it should come as no surprise to YOU, that one of the things I love most about photography is the documentary aspect of it. That is, capturing those big moments in people’s lives. And, get this – I’m so emotional and sentimental that I believe every moment is a moment worth capturing. (Yeah, I know. I should change my name to “Hallmark”…)

Anyway, I figured the topic of memories would make a great blog post. So, here you go – the top three reasons why memories are better than things!

1. Memories Last Longer
When I was a kid, I had a crochet pig named “Da-Doo.” From my first days of infancy to early elementary, Da-Doo went everywhere with me (and I mean EVERYWHERE). From the bathtub to family vacations, my Nana’s house to restaurants, pediatric exams to bicycle adventures, my trusty companion was always by my side. And, if ever I accidentally left him somewhere, I’d raise hell until my parents recovered him. 

But, one fateful night, eight-year-old me took Da-Doo to a Girl Scout’s sleepover at Pistol Pete’s (the early 1990’s Vegas version of Chuck E. Cheese). That night was a night of many exciting firsts for me – all-you-can-eat pizza, junk-food galore, unlimited arcade games, and staying up all night. I had the time of my life… but, somehow, in the sugar-high madness of it all, misplaced Da-Doo. I was devastated.

Fortunately, my mom offered a theory that consoled me to some degree. She said something along the lines of, “Gina, Da-Doo was ready for another adventure… and he saw this as an opportunity to do it. I imagine he’s now in the prize section of Pistol Pete’s. Some other little girl or boy will soon exchange their arcade tickets for Da-Doo, and give him a really amazing life. He’ll miss you, but you’ll always have him in your heart.”

I’m not sure what ever came of Da-Doo. For all I know, he could have been thrown away or ripped apart, or who knows. I prefer to think that he is sailing around the world, collecting antique books and exotic instruments.

Whatever the case may be, Da-Doo lives forever in my heart. While still possessing the physical version of Da-Doo would be nice, the memories are what matter the most. The memory of Da-Doo outlived every toy I ever owned, and that connection is timeless. Nothing can take it away.

2. Memories Are Powerful
Have you ever picked up a fragrance that conjured up images of some not so distant past? Like, say, cologne, which then prompted a flashback of your very first kiss? Or, laundry detergent, which reminded you of your late Grandmother, and then before you knew it, you could feel her warm and cozy bear hug? Or, how about the sight of a heart-shaped pencil eraser, that spurred nightmarish flashbacks of failing an exam? You know what I’m talking about… One of two things then happened – either you felt really good, or really bad. Can you name any one “thing” that’s THAT powerful? Didn’t think so.

I know that for me, the mere texture of crochet evokes a feeling of deep comfort. It would be pretty safe to assert that this is linked to my connection to my childhood friend, Da-Doo. Now, do I go out intentionally seeking crochet materials whenever I’m feeling anxious, scared or in need of comfort? No. But, maybe I should…

I think most of us are pretty passive about our memories. We don’t intentionally seek them out. But, when we have one, we acknowledge it for at least a moment. Imagine what would happen if we were more active about our memories. What if we started actively seeking them out? Not the negative ones, but the positive ones. What do you think might happen?

If you’re curious, then I have a little exercise for you – Grab a piece of paper, and write down your top ten favorite memories – the ones where you were your happiest and most alive. Then, identify the most nostalgic scents, textures, tastes and sounds associated with those positive memories. Next, incorporate those nostalgic elements into your life… and watch the magic happen.

3. Memories Are Unique
The only thing we truly have are our memories. And, the only thing that’s truly ours are our memories. That sweater you bought at H & M? Someone else has the same one! That awesome idea you want to patent? You better hurry up, because someone else will think of it sooner or later. That haircut you think your friend copied? Guess what, babe – someone else had it first!

But, your memories… those are yours. Just like your perspective, vision and eye. So, go out and experience life and make memories. Your memories make your life richer and deeper. Your memories are yours forever. Well, except in cases of certain illnesses associated with age (i.e. Alzheimer’s, Dementia, etc.). So, PLEASE – get ‘em while you’re still young!

*Bonus Reason: Memories Are FREE!

(Update: I tried the exercise of listing down my top ten favorite memories, and then incorporated them into my life. The results? Pretty damn powerful! I’ll share my experience in a future post. Stay tuned…)