Forgetting Memories

Photo by Jo Tyson – Unsplash

Change happens fast and it will only happen quicker and in grander ways than you will ever give it credit for. No matter how far off in the distance it may seem it will arrive, all those impossibles will line up and you’ll find yourself in a whole new world, in a slightly altered future. Change loves company, it loves to inspire others in its actions, there will never just be a change, there may be a moment of change but so many things will change within that moment. Ideas and notions will gain new momentum and snowball, so no matter how much you brace yourself or prepare yourself you will never be truly ready for it. Sometimes it is for the better or for the worse but like anything over time you will find the better within it, it is human nature to do so but we love to forget. We love to make the same mistakes again, we love to think we can best change but change will happen, we love to think the worst of it, allowing our memories to fail us.

We are so safe in the now that we believe we do not need to remember, believing we always will, we will ever remember yesterday and last week and last year and we may but we will forget the details, the moments, how everything was before now. We will forget it, that is why we document it, write about it, photograph it and record it. We rely on others to capture us, to immortalise our moments. Over the past few months I have found with greater and greater alarm how much I have forgotten, how much I try to remember to remember and how much has changed. Everything feels like yesterday while also a million years ago, I can remember this and that, I can recall certain facts but I have so little to document it. I’ve long been a purveyor of living it rather than capturing, I’m not one of those at a show or concert watching it through the screen of my phone, recording it all. I still stick by living in those moments but never have I been the one to capture the glee on a friends face as they dance along or when they secure their dream job or of them receiving their birthday cake. Now more than ever as I find myself in the constant rotation of change the need for such things not to hold onto but to remember grows.

Growing up my parents, like most parents, were forever snapping images on beaten up old film cameras or quick disposables or recording it all onto VHS and later laser disc. I’ve always been a believer of the physical preferring an image of ink and dye over one of pixels and in part that is why I think I was never one to be quick to go to my phone and to snap an image, to capture a friend or family member in their moment. With each new change thrown at me though I wish I had done so, that I had quickly just caught it before sliding my phone away, not missing the moment, not taking myself out of it, remaining ever present but forever keeping it also. So as change, like always and ever will, continues I’ve found myself endeavouring to capture the moments, to create real and physical keepsakes, not ones that can be altered and deleted at the drop of the hat but ones that are truly of the just now, of the just a moment ago.

I wish I could go back in time and capture all those moments I should have, of those parties, those quiet summer days, those farewells and hellos and I know this isn’t all possible. We can’t record our entire lives, to document it all nor should we want to really. We should still live the moments, enjoy them but there is a balance to be had, of having quick snapshots and ticket stubs or park maps to tuck away in our pocket or of something quick and simple to jot down in a journal. Not something to be laboured over but something that holds the memory, a physical touchstone in a way, that thing that makes you go; oh remember when… Everything is forgettable but I’d rather have the choice to forget, to erase, to bin or delete it than not to of ever trying to constantly remember. Yes I prefer physical to digital but to have the moment, to have the touchstone either way is the most important thing to me now. Of keeping a moment, not a hundred snaps of the same thing, not a billion cinema tickets, not allowing myself to become overwhelmed with memories, overfilled but to edit where necessary. To life edit you first need to have the option to do so and to make the work load manageable.

Recently I switched to an analogue film camera making a point of carrying it on my person at all times for this very reason. To capture the moments be them odd or messy or a little incoherent but to capture the candid, the real (as possible) in a way, to make the staged unpredictable and most importantly making the memories wait. We capture moments so instantly and review them just as quickly, we edit and post them even quicker no longer what they were having re-crafted them and re-worked them. There is a delay from the negative to the actual to the re-living, there is time to forget and to re-discover and to remember afresh, somehow seemingly making the memory stronger. We needn’t all do the same, as much as I would love to see film photography back at the forefront, with all things there needs to be a mindfulness rather than an instantaneousness. A moment captured is reviewable without hesitation, deletable without thought and saveable in equal measure. It is a phrase that gets batted around a lot, that of; instant gratification and rightly so as it seeps into everything we do often without us realising that is why the need for self-awareness and mindfulness have become such strong ideas in our modern world. We can’t remember everything that is an impossibility but we can make our memories important and powerful to our own selves by retaining their essence rather than exploiting them, we can pocket them, rediscover them, we should be able to lose them and find them again but we can only do so if we don’t over clutter our own minds and devices first. 

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