Memories are tricky. I believe, good or bad, they have value and are totally unique. They are created by us – from our perspective, colored by age and circumstance. No-one can duplicate that combination. As we move along in life there are always new stages, priorities, challenges, emotional highs and lows, and a tide of new memories are created. Many of the old ones simply slip away. How do we find them if we don’t know they’re there, stored in our hugely complex belfry? If we wish, there are triggers to jog those lost moments and people back into our conscious mind.
Our five traditionally recognized senses come first…..sight, sounds, tastes, smells and texture. Photos are a natural. I have a closet full of pictures, all sorted and in albums by year or event. Organized you might think. Well it was an effort prompted by need. Many moves created that need. Leaving them in a box or trunk or bags would see them deteriorate to the point of no return. So at different times I have made it a priority to protect them. As family members have passed on we’ve inherited their pictures so culling and sorting was important to reduce them to a meaningful record of individual lives. Why was this important. Perhaps it was my interest in history and family heritage. Perhaps it was simply a desire to not totally let go of those who played a part in my life or – of what got me to where I am now.
Of course we rarely have hard copy photos any more. We have digital pictures taken from our phones and I Pads. So much for the Brownie or any cameras that followed. Online albums, easily shared with the world, have replaced those volumes that needed so much storage space. The key to pictures being a trigger, however, is you have to look at them. How many times do we make that effort?
Other natural triggers can be connecting with old friends, family or school reunions, simple conversation, a story told by someone else, an event such as a wedding or funeral, illness, traditional family times such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, the look on someone’s face, and certainly music.
Almost anything can be a trigger if you’re interested. I have a small ceramic frog sitting on my desk. Did you know frogs are amazing creatures? They hop, they stick, they swim, they meld and when they choose they move with lightening speed. I’ve seen green, brown and albino frogs – ones that are so small you have to watch you don’t step on them and ones so big you want to get out of their way. My favorite I found in a quaint pottery studio tucked away in the woods. He’s three inches high, painted a soft graduated green color and is sitting back on his haunches as if ready to leap. But, he’s not going to leap – he’s reading a book. His creator named him the Literary Leaper and the moment I saw him I knew he was mine. His name is Nat and he, in his own right, is the trigger to so many memories. The story of how Nat got his name is one based on my perception of a different time. I’ll save that one.
How about my rings? I can tell a story related to each ring I own …. my wedding ring lost on the golf course, the ring belonging to my Great Grandmother, the ring belonging to my Grandmother and the wedding band belonging to my dear Aunt Claire. Even my costume rings have a story.
There’s Sailor Simon who’s image is photo stamped on a wooden TV table. He was our best 4-legged traveling friend for 15 years. He started life riding in my purse and ended up writing a column. What a ton of memories he congers.
There’s my contact list of those I’ve met (not all) over the years through our families, travel, work, associations, hobbies, and neighbors. That’s only the beginning. I remember –
No….. time to stop. This is too much fun.