So many things vie for our attention these days. It seems like we hardly have a minute to sit still. We’ve got soccer games and piano lessons and grocery shopping and laundry and (ahem) blog posts to write. And we take pictures of everything these days. Preserving those photos and the memories that go with them tend to sit on the to-do list for long periods of time for most people. But not me! And I’ll tell you why.
I Need My Pictures and Memories
Seeing photos and reminiscing about happy times has been shown to actually increase happiness in the present. I need that. I am busy, worried, stressed, and overloaded on a pretty regular basis. I can’t take a trip to Hawaii every time I need to relax.
But I can sit down and spend 10 minutes looking through my 2008 trip to Hawaii ANY TIME I WANT because I’ve preserved those pictures and memories in a physical book. Reminiscing lets you go home. It’s Christmas again. I’m with my grandpa again. I’m bringing that sweet baby home from the hospital again. Re-living the good times gives me perspective on the bad ones. It gives me hope and a greater sense of peace. I’m more centered and grounded because I’m in touch with my own self. And, let me tell you– I need that.
I Need the Process of Preserving Them
I saw a very funny ad recently about preserving your photos by basically pushing a button, and how much better that is than “wasting time” doing it the traditional way. I enjoyed the ad until “wasting time” was mentioned, and then I choked a little bit. Pushing a button is all well and good, and it’s better than not having any preserved pictures at all, for sure. But because we’re so “busy,” we have completely lost sight of what the PROCESS of memory-keeping really does for us.
It’s a valuable exercise to close your eyes every once in a while and think, “What is the most wonderful moment I have lived through during the past year?” It might be part of a grand event or a very simple moment, perhaps a brief interaction with another person. The grand or simple, it doesn’t matter. ~Marjorie Pay Hinckley
Taking the time to interact with your photos and your memories is cathartic. Much like keeping a gratitude journal, putting words to your life’s experiences as you preserve photos gives you perspective and gratitude and a sense of purpose.
My Family Needs Them
I’ve mentioned this a lot in previous #familyhistoryfriday posts because this is a really big deal. It’s very important to me. What photos, memories, and family stories do for kids has a lasting impact:
- greater sense of belonging, an increased ability to cope with difficult times, and better ability to bounce back
- higher self-esteem and greater emotional well-being
I want my kids to have something to hold in their laps and look at that will lift their spirits when times are tough. I want them to have the ability to reminisce. I want them to see connections and see how they belong when they see pictures of grandparents and cousins. I want them to be uplifted when they remember. I want a venue to tell my kids what I love about them, what I see in them. I want to celebrate their accomplishments and even the times they tried and didn’t really accomplish what they’d hoped. I want them to see that we had fun along the way.
My Memory Fades
One of the biggest reasons I prioritize staying caught up on preserving my pictures and memories is because I forget quickly. My memory fades. Ask me about my first job or my first day of college, and I can tell you very few things. I don’t remember them very well because I didn’t write anything down and I didn’t take a picture. If I had taken pictures and then written about it when I preserved the pictures, I would know more details right now than I do.
Ask me about our first apartment after we got married or about the beach trip with my cousins when we were teenagers, and I can tell you a lot more because I took pictures and wrote down my memories of the events. Preserving photos and memories is the best way I know of to keep your memory from fading!
In fact, I would say that memory-keeping is the ability to “google” your life! Isn’t that true?! I can’t tell you how many times we’ll be sitting around as a family talking about something and someone will say, “Now when was that?” or “What did it look like?” and we’ll pull out our family scrapbooks and look it up! It feels a little like pulling out your phone to look up the actor in the movie to try to figure out where you know him from, or any of the other things we look up with ease these days. Having scrapbooks, memory books, photo books, and albums lets you look up and reminisce and learn and enjoy!
I know we’re all busy. I know memory-keeping can fall by the wayside. But in addition to preserving my memories while they’re still fresh (and before I forget details), I stay caught up preserving my photos and memories because I need all the benefits that I’ve listed here. I need to remember good times, feel grounded, and have a greater sense of gratitude right now. I need the cathartic experience of interacting with my photos and the story of my life in a very real way right now. I need my kids to have a greater sense of belonging and increased self-esteem and greater resilience right now. Will I need those things in the future? Absolutely. But I just can’t wait. I need all the benefits of family stories, photos, and memories right now.
Why NOW When We Have So Much To Do
Making time for memory-keeping can be challenging, but there are lots of tricks to make it work. I’ve mentioned several in previous #familyhistoryfriday posts, and I’ve collected some really helpful links and information here. Like most things in life, we tend to find time for our priorities.
The week after I graduated from college, I attended a women’s conference there at my alma mater. I remember few things that were said at that event more than 20 years ago, but I will always remember one statement one of the speakers said:
“We have too much to do so that we will know what is important.”
Think about that. Let it stick with you, too. We don’t have to do everything. We just need to do what matters.
If you missed this month’s series on HOW I stay caught up preserving my photos and memories, you can find them posted each Friday of September 2017.