Stopping to smell the roses isn’t the issue for me. It’s remembering what they smelled like. That’s the tough part. My guess is that there are very few “memories for a lifetime.” We romanticize over the idea that an event will be pressed between the pages of our minds forever and ever. Fact is, most of our memories barely last a lunch time, let alone a lifetime. Sadly, I remember less and less about those moments that I should have tucked away forever. My guess is there are others like me whose mental photographs are sketchy at best. Life happens.
I remember the joy of my father/daughter dance when daddy’s little girl got married, but the compelling beauty of the smile on her face as she symbolically transferred from being my baby to his wife escapes me. Those radiant glimpses and other such events seem to be better captured in the words of a song, or a poem, or a photo, or a painting, but not in the memory. The memory tends to fail us over such memorable occasions. Why is that?
Is it because our mind is cluttered with “Leave It to Beaver” trivia? Maybe, the emotion of your child’s first day of kindergarten is overshadowed by all of the life we lived between now and then. It is frustrating not to be able to recall the detail of what should have been a lifetime memory. It was certainly important enough to remember, but something happened on the way to lifelong retention. It’s frustrating – very frustrating.
Wedding vows, births, graduations and deaths are all there, but appear as a pencil sketch with little detail. I remember most of the dates and remember telling myself at the time that this was a memory for a lifetime. I recall saying something like “I’ll never forget this moment for as long as I live.” Not true. Sadly, I forgot a great deal of the detail and hold on to as much as I can of the emotion of the moment. What mechanism in the brain serves to take these 3D moments and dilute them into something black and white with a grainy quality? If I knew, I’d fix it.
Why this discussion now? I have a grandson who is eight months old. I can’t get enough of this little guy. I am working extra hard to remember everything about him for a lifetime. How he smiles, how he laughs, how he cries are all important, and I’m trying with all of my mental might to not let the feelings I have when I’m with him leave me any time soon.
I’m also reminding his mom and dad to soak it all in. Don’t get diverted by some shallow list of things to do that detracts from making the memories that last a lifetime. Focus on the moment – the smells, the sounds, the feelings. “Soak it all in; drink every drop” is what I tell them.
Every day we are making memories. Most of them will hang around through tomorrow’s lunch and then be swept away with all the other things that make up our busy lives. But there are those that deserve a much more revered place.
Don’t let the special memories get washed out. You’ll regret their absence.