It was whilst holding my three month old baby on a family holiday that I first recognised feeling the pressure to make memories. Somehow watching my two young daughters playing and my baby cooing at the new surroundings wasn’t enough, I felt the need to capture the moment and preserve it as an everlasting memory. So when did we go from living our lives to striving to create memories?
Looking back at my parents photograph albums, reveals a series of fading photographs of Birthday parties, days out and sunny afternoons, but my entire childhood is contained within an album or two, whereas I could have filled an album with images of each of my children within a week. It seems to me that it isn’t just about the idea of taking photographs though, it is the idea that the day, moment or event needs to be captured, saved and a memory created; it seems to me that it’s no longer enough to witness and be present in the moment, instead memories must be made. My feeling is it has a lot to do with social media and seeing a stream of carefully edited highlights of people’s lives. The reels of super fun, enlivened, cool and fun lives that are shared on Face Book, don’t show the full story, but it can create a sense that your own life isn’t measuring up and inspire negative thought processes about how uninspiring your own daily life is.
I know first hand how different your actual life and the one you’re perceived as leading from social media titbits can be. Indeed a few years ago I was going through a difficult divorce, but still I posted images on Face Book of my two beautiful children and of simple pleasures such as days out and painting pictures with them. Looking back the images posted looked like my life was idyllic and indeed my posts gave no hint as to the stress and emotional pain I was going through. Indeed a friend decided to lend her support to my ex on the strength of her belief that I was not feeling the toil of my marital split because my life looked so ‘blissful’ on face book. It goes without saying that pretty pictures of happiness are not always what they seem…well you are hardly going to post pictures of you sobbing in your wine glass, wondering where everything went wrong in your life are you? The images of happy ‘memories’ are just a snapshot in time and are not the making of memories.
So as we strive to make memories we are really missing the opportunity to authentically feel our memories. It seems to me that we should be less concerned with making memories and more concerned with living life as best we can, after all, memories are made all the time: it’s a biological process. Our brains are receiving and encoding sensory input continuously without any conscious effort on our part and so we don’t need to stress about making memories. Indeed it’s not really about making memories but worrying about how we look to others and creating a lasting image of yourself so that in future people will look back at the ‘fun’ times you had and go ‘wow’ they led an amazing life, they must have fantastic memories.
But in my opinion it is less important that people perceive you as being, ‘fun’, ‘wild’, ‘adventurous’ , ‘successful’,’ blissful’, ‘conscious’ or ‘cool’, and more important to just be comfortable being you and to enjoy the moment. When we try to make memories we are trying to control an experience, it’s as if we are directing a perfectly scripted drama where everyone is super happy and everything is perfect.
When you become a performer in your own drama in an attempt to create the next exciting show reel of memories and are choreographing the memorable, ‘picture-perfect’ experience you are missing out on something important: what is actually happening for real. If you are busy recording the experience in photographs, videos and rushing around making sure everything goes exactly to plan you are not truly experiencing what is right in front of you, you are not truly present and living in the moment.
It is in the present when everything happens that becomes the content for memories and by trying to orchestrate the memories you run the risk of missing out on the realness and the true organic memories because you worrying about how the outcome should look and feel.
So, instead of trying to create a memory, try being present in the moment and focusing upon what you truly want in your life. Don’t worry about how people will look back and view you. Stop worrying about creating the memories because your brain is recording them all and remember you’ll only get those truly special, heart-warming memories if you pay attention to the moment.
Without authenticity memories are not memories they are just actions, so it’s important to just relax; stop competing and let the good times roll. You don’t need to digitally record every last detail, because if you truly live in the moment you’ll have true memories to recall at will. We all lead such busy lives and strive for so much in life but I have found that by being present, being more conscious of life as it happens I have gained the best memories of my children and happy times. I have found that there are three rules to making authentic memories:

 

Take time and be present:

when we are rushing around trying to make sure that the day is full of fun, fun, fun whilst digitally capturing ‘the magic’, it’s impossible to fully appreciate the moment. Just by taking time to be present in the moment you can begin to enjoy life to the fullest and will capture in your mind all those little moments.  By being present and taking time; you can enjoy the food you’ve prepared more, you can enjoy the company of your friends and family more and you can remember details about the day. When you are rushing you miss all the little things, which are often the true makings of memories.  I find just taking time to savour the small things and keeping everything simple helps to make things special and make lasting memories.

 

 

Act Slowly:

 

Don’t rush, take your time and allow yourself to enjoy the moment. I know this isn’t always possible in life, especially with busy schedules, but you know sometimes when you slow down and allow your thoughts and actions to flow in an organised and deliberate way you achieve more than when you rush and everything becomes chaotic and stressful. I find take time and sometimes allowing myself five minutes of quiet time to reflect really helps me to capture lasting memories.

One thing at a time:

 

Over the years I have been proud of my ability to multi-task, but when it comes to making memories the best tactic is: single-task, don’t multi-task. There is a Zen proverb that says: “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” This proverb really sums things up, if for example you are bathing your children take time to just do that one thing, and take pleasure in it without moving on to the next thing in your head. Or if you are cooking dinner, just cook dinner don’t try to get sandwiches ready for the next day, check your phone, and switch the washing machine on whilst contemplating a million other chores, just concentrate on one thing. When it comes to making memories it is amazing how magical mundane things can be when you just take time to do one thing at a time, for example pegging out the washing with little helpers can yield some wonderful memories if you allow yourself to take the time and just do that one thing.

 

Memories are also not always photographic. I like to have keepsake boxes where I keep notes of special days along with small mementos such as pebbles collected from the beach whilst on holiday or even candles from a Birthday cake. I love having a keepsake box as it gives me something to go through on rainy days and recall happy times. It’s amazing how picking up a shell that you picked up from a beach five years ago can trigger a string of happy memories.

 

When creating authentic memories the key is to just focus on what you’re doing, right now. Enjoy the present moment and don’t worry about the future, the past or the next thing on your ‘to do list’ ,  just relax, take your time and enjoy life as it comes, the memories will sort themselves out and they’ll be captured in your mind forever. Remember the best memories are often of the simple things in life and they don’t come with a fanfare so make sure you take the time to notice them and enjoy the flow of authentic happy memories.

 

 

 

About Seren Charrington-Hollins

ABOUT SEREN-CHARRINGTON-HOLLINS Describing my work through just one job title is difficult; because my professional life sees me wear a few hats: Food Historian, period cook, broadcaster, writer and consultant. I have a great passion for social and food history and in addition to researching food history and trends I have also acted as a consultant on domestic life and changes throughout history for a number of International Companies. In addition to being regularly aired on radio stations; I have made a number of television appearances on everything from Sky News through to ITV’s Country House Sunday, Holiday of a Lifetime with Len Goodman , BBC4’s Castle’s Under Siege, BBC South Ration Book Britain; Pubs that Built Britain with Hairy Bikers and BBC 2’s Inside the Factory. Amongst other publications my work has been featured in Period Living Magazine, Telegraph, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Great British Food Magazine and I write regularly for a variety of print and online publications. I am very fortunate to be able to undertake work that is also my passion and never tire of researching; recreating historical recipes and researching changing domestic patterns. Feel free to visit my blog, www.serenitykitchen.com