Photos and Memory-Keeping

Painting by Caitlin McGualey

I have virtually no pictures of my college years through approximately age 25.  There are a couple of reasons why this is the case, probably primarily because I was too impatient to ever pick up a camera, and I had noticed that, generally speaking, people hate to stop what they are doing in order to pose for a photo.

I also seem to have been remarkably affected by the philosophy of a John Mayer song:

Today I finally overcame trying to fit the world inside a picture frame…didn’t have a camera by my side this time, hoping I could see the world with both my eyes.  

It is somewhat burdensome to carry around a camera, to focus the lens, to frame up what you are looking at and then take a picture — and as the song seems to imply, there are some experiences you want to just kick back and, well, experience  instead of poking around and fiddling with a camera.  I still very much relate to and agree with this sentiment — the very act of reaching for your camera bag could have the effect of blocking your ability to see, feel and experience what is going on before your eyes.

As true as that may be, we return to the original problem — no pictures from a (couple) chapters of my life.

One of my favorite blogs, Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project (also a great book), observed that recalling happy memories, and  using prompts to recall happy memories (such as photographs, albums, collages, home videos, etc.) serves as a way to boost current happiness. Check out this post for Gretchen’s tips for using momentos to keep happy memories vivid.

I’m lucky enough to have had so many happy events happen this year that I forever want to remember — the big London move,  the wedding, of course, the honeymoon, my sister-in-law’s baby shower (and forthcoming baby), and lots of fun trips to Boston, New York and Los Angeles, to name a few. I’m old enough now that months and years seem to slide by easily, too quickly.

The result? I’ve been much more diligent about taking photographs, even when I don’t want to (knowing that I will be much happier in the future having some photos), and I’ve even taken to making yearly albums called “The Year in Review” where I collect the best pictures from the year and sort them into an album.  I have lots of projects lined up this autumn for memory keeping, starting with the wedding album, a honeymoon album and a memory quilt.

I’m so looking forward to having these momentos to help me recall this amazing year.


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