As trite as this sounds, photos do the trick for me. I didn't have a working camera for most of college, and I regret that because I have so few pictures from that era. But I've got lots of pictures from my first trip to Europe, pictures of my wedding, pictures from graduation, and they always make me happy when I go back and look at them.
My other method only works if you've prepared in advance. :) I've kept a diary more or less continuously since I was 10. Occassionally I'll dig them out and reread whatever entry is closest to the current day for each preceding year. That always brings back memories, often very interesting ones.
Oh, and music. Especially when I was younger, I'd go through periods where I'd listen to nothing but the same CD/tape for a few months. When I listen to that music again, it always throws me back to the period when I listened to it regularly.
The system won't let me unscreen your comment, for some reason, but I do appreciate the advice. The music one is the only one that would probably work for me, since I only have VERY spotty records in terms of photos or a diary, until I started my webpage. I do know what you mean though--every so often I randomly read my webpage archives, and I'm always surprised in some way. And it always calls up memories. They just aren't old enough.
I remember YOU though! How can a person forget the first person they ever met in the SCA? I don't want to give the impression that I don't cherish my more recent memories, because I do, but they are more accessible to me than the older ones, and I feel like I've jettisoned large parts of my life. Those brain cells have gone into cold storage...or died altogether. And it makes me a bit sad.
Yay--you're unscreened! ;)
*hugs* This is an interesting and introspective question, but it does tend to sound like a one-liner from a Marx Brothers movie:
"Now Mr. Klein, I want to describe in detail, everything you've forgotten about this case."
I guess my first thought on this is, what is the motivation for this need to remember arts of your life that are otherwise un-noteworthy to you. I mean obviously if they were funny, sad, moving, or otherwise more emotion-filled (like a Freudian ravioli) I would think they would leave more of an impression in your mind. So this sort of makes them 2nd class memories, average every-day run-of-the-mill making-macaroni-and-cheese-for-dinner memories. (wow those hyphens multiply quickly!)
In what way, do you think, are these memories good for your sense of self? I'm not saying they aren't, I'm just interested in this train of thought.
As for how to remember satisfying parts of one's life, I tend to remember them in story-form. I don't necessarily have to write them down (although that of course is the most logical and obvious solution) but I retell my memories to myself, and others if and when the proper time and place presents itself. In general, what sort of things are you trying to remember more clearly?
I'm trying to remember what it was like to live during those times. The mindset, what I was thinking and feeling. Sure, I don't need to remember every shower I took during high school, or stuff I disliked like hanging out with the Temple Youth Group people. (Don't tell my mom I said that. ;) )
But there are so many little things that occasionally come to mind: eating a homemade Italian meal in the basement of Trever Hall with my first boyfriend, a choir friend, and her boyfriend. Listening to my first Renaissance music tape over and over again during the spring of 1988. How excited we used to get for the pottery auction during Fine Arts Week in high school. Having my indexing professor serve me blueberry pancakes at a library school breakfast. My dad taking me shopping for a dress for a formal I didn't think I'd be invited to (and then I was). At the moment they weren't earth-shattering. Now, they give me insight into myself, the goals I've had, how I've changed, and what has historically given me joy and made me feel grounded (and lord knows I need more of that these days).
See, I can remember this stuff if I have a reason to, but I don't usually have a reason to. I need more reasons, more occasions to remember. I can't just sit down in a chair and reminisce, and I'd like to avoid writing everything down. Ary suggests I look at photos or my diary from the past; I don't have much of a record of either. And although I don't hang out with friends much, when I do, I don't want to bore them with these memories that mean nothing to them.
Maybe I should call Oli...but of course I feel bad because I haven't seen her in four years, and didn't make it to her wedding. Guilt, you know? It's a yucky thing.
Where does Oli live? If it's close by, you're right, don't call her. Send her flowers. A couple carnations in a simple vase with a nice card that says you'd like to take her to lunch sometime or go out to dinner with her and her husband.
If she does live far away, just call her. You know another thing about guilt? It's a bad thing. It paralyzes you and doesn't let you do what you want to because it convinces you there is no good thing that can come of whatever you do. But it doesn't sound like you did anything wrong. Life has just intruded lately. There's only one way to stop NOT-communicating, and that's to stop not communicating.
You said it yourself: "I can remember this stuff if I have a reason to, but I don't usually have a reason to." That's right, because everything you did and everybody you knew is part of the terrific friend that I have. And if you want to reacquaint yourself with your friends from the past, GO FOR IT! But remember that everything you were going to get from what you did then you've already gotten; bringing these people back into your life will be all about making new memories.
2006-04-14 10:36 pm (UTC)
Through the looking glass, relatively
I wish I could help, but I seem to be at the other end of the spectrum. I live in a bizarre, hybridized Now, in which all time is spaghetti, and someone will say something which will spark a memory of something someone else said or did (or something I read) days, months, or years past, which relates. I once wrote a marvelous essay (the only thing my creative essay-writing classmates liked from my work) about my then-girlfriend saying something to me, and Blaise Pascal replying to her point at length, and my response to the both of them. This wasn't a problem back then, but now that I am sneaking up on codgerhood, I find that I have to watch what I say to people, since I might otherwise reply to a context of which they have no cognizance. It can be neat, on rare sometimes, when I get to see how things connect like watching a weird and sempiternal philosophical Grand Central station, but most of the time it just forces me to multitask and expend energy to pay attention to the Now even as friends, relatives and colleagues past and gone clamour for attention. I seriously doubt this helps you at all, but it was nice to read your post and realize how marvelously different from one's own someone else's life can be, even living in a universe governed by the same God and Natural Law, and I figured it would be miserly of me not to attempt to return the favor.
ps - I am not so presumtuous as to assume that this will please or entertain, and will readily delete it if it annoys or offends.