What Memories are Made of
The holiday season is a perfect time for making memories – of all kinds – but most importantly positive, vivid, emotionally laden and meaningful memories which can be savoured for reminiscence in the future. The wonderful Meik Wiking wrote:
“Memories are the cornerstones of our identity – they are our superpower which allows us to travel in time and sets us free from the limitations of the present moment. They shape who we are and how we act”. (Weiking, 2019, pp. 8).
Christmas time for most of us, who are lucky enough to have close relationships with meaningful others, is about quality time spent with the ones we love.
Rich and Multisensory
My challenge to myself this Christmas Day – one spent 10,000 miles from home, but with my wonderful sister, brother-in-law and two gorgeous nieces – was to consciously partake in some multisensory and positively emotive memory building. From the sound of the excited giggles of my nieces as they sprang out of bed to check that Santa had left something under the tree; to the delicious intoxicating aroma of freshly ground coffee, as my sister and I savoured our lattes and the girls sipped their babycinos; to the satisfying pleasure of snapping the crunchy shells off the prawns at lunch, peeling off the pink husks to reveal the delicious sweet meat – which was so fresh it still smelled and tasted of the sea; to the serenity and calm of being immersed in an underwater world, as my sister and I bobbed about in the ocean with our snorkels, following schools of little black and white stripey fish as they zigged and zagged and darted through seaweed fronds and crevices in the rocks, with only the sound of our slow and controlled breath – in and out, in and out, in and out – in time with the rhythm of the waves……
Savouring the positive
I’m under no illusion that I am very fortunate to be able to experience such an amazing Christmas, in a part of the world many may not get the chance to visit, but regardless of where I was, it was the conscious effort to mindfully and completely immerse myself in the simple pleasures – to be present and grateful for what I could see, hear, smell, touch and taste with people I love that was the key. Bryant and Veroff (2006) define savouring as ‘the capacity to attend to, appreciate and enhance the positive experiences in one’s life’. It is my hope that by consciously encoding multi-sensory memories of this day – 25th December 2019 – they will be deep and rich and more easily accessible – such that I will be able to tap back into them in future when I need a burst of positivity or inspiration. Whether triggered by a child’s laughter elsewhere, or by the taste of fresh seafood, or even using a photograph to transport myself back to that day, time-machine style, I will be able to relive all of those wonderful emotions again.
Looking to the future
Like many others, my new year hopes and plans will contain many ideas for potentially exciting, novel and meaningful experiences in 2020, with family, friends and loved ones. My intention? To take it all in. Every last drop. To take pleasure in, and be thankful for my senses which allow me to enjoy these experiences. Oh – and I’m also going to take Meik (Wiking, 2019) up on his memory challenge to visit somewhere new every year – in fact I might even make it more than one – adventures are all the richer for capitalising on the opportunity to make memories!
- Bryant, F. & Veroff, J, (2006). Savoring: a New Model of Positive Experience. Taylor Francis. New York.
- Wiking, M, (2019). The Art of Making Memories: How to create and remember happy moments. Random House.