I don’t keep a personal diary and I have a memory that resembles a sieve. Everything and anything gets chucked in. That which is most important is retained temporarily while everything else seems to dissolve unnoticed into the ether. I would describe it as a side-effect of eternal curiosity, my husband would say I’m just forgetful. As would the school receptionist who kindly takes in the missing gym kit. And my friends who frequently get an SOS message to help with something. And my family who more often than not get a birthday card twelve days late.
Each year I resolve to be better organised, to remember important dates, people, events. But I never do and it occurs to me frequently that perhaps I’m doing myself an injustice by not committing these things to memory. It’s not that I don’t want to remember, I’ve had some amazing experiences over the past year (some planned, some serendipitous) and they do spring delightfully into my mind at the strangest of times. The memories force me to consider whether my life might be more fulfilled if I remembered them in their entirety? Through my rose-tinted glasses (are any autobiographies written that reflect on real-life, without ‘selective memory syndrome’ and very careful editing?), there are moments that I don’t want to forget. As a lover of stories, of family traditions and recounted tales of times gone by, I want to leave my own narrative in the world. I want to have ‘permanent memories’ saved for recounting to my children, and their children and so on. A legacy (although I don’t plan on going anywhere soon!). My kids love to hear stories from my childhood, usually the ones where my siblings and I got into trouble, and these are the tales that bind us together as a family.
But there are also a few moments that I’d rather not remember. I’m a non-facebooker (yep, we do exist) and I guess for most, FB serves to be that reminder, refreshing your memories with the odd ‘timehop’ and a new ‘like’ on a long-forgotten photo. But alongside this sharing, there is the unfortunate craze for projecting a ‘fake-life’. The glossy, enhanced, edited version; that one photograph that took 180 attempts but is passed off as an everyday shot; the life you want others to think you live illustrated by carefully crafted pics. Cynical, moi? And jealous of such glossy, well manicured lives? Perhaps. But by posting the ‘best’ days of our lives, are we doing ourselves a disservice? Aside from setting unachievable goals of perfection, are we failing to acknowledge the simple things in life? The small things that, while not being FB boast-worthy, have the potential to change how we are feeling that day? To make us thankful for the lives we do have? Surely when there are viral trends for ‘no make-up selfies’ and ‘just woke up selfies‘, then something is wrong in the world. Should that not be the normal photos we see everyday? Does everyone not have normal, bags under eyes, puffy face, ‘don’t want to brush my hair’ days, sans personal make-up artist/hairdresser/stylist/filter? No? Just me? Ok, I’ll stop ranting. I got a bit sidetracked anyway.
I was saying that without FB, I’m bereft of digital memory prompts. In lieu of such, I though a good place to start would to be my collection of photos. Taking photographs is such an integral part of our daily lives today, we can instantly capture images in an accessible but often superfluous way. What does this mean for our photographs? Are they still coveted, a novelty? Are they permanent, do we print them out as physical artefacts or do they remain as temporal moments in our photo stream? And furthermore, do photographs still have the power to evoke the same emotional connection to a particular point in time when we constantly revisit them, habitually flicking through our phones?
I have great aspirations of selecting the best photographs and having them printed into annual photobooks. I’ve made a couple but the remainder of my digital album comprises of unorganised, most likely duplicated folders of thousands of images hastily uploaded when my phone runs out of space. Sorting them out will be a job of patience and perseverance, for when I’ve more time on my hands. More time? Perhaps when I retire?
Alas, I don’t even have enough time in my day to flick through photos on my phone so perhaps a revisit of the last year will evoke some missing memories; provide reminders and more importantly help me to celebrate the little things. So I propose a review of 2016, the highs and the lows. Well, the edited lows…I’ve still to retain some kind of profile!