Affirmation: I examine the past with an eye on my best
The conversation revolved around how different generations use technology. Adam, my daughter's fiancé spoke with me about how those over 50 had to learn about social media; how for those in their late 20's and 30's it was simply an extension of the computer skills they learned as children and how those in their teens today have grown up with social media. It's an integral part of their life, like radio or TV is to some. He then went on to tell me that my 16 year old granddaughter will have a complete photo history of her life not because we have been photographing her since birth, which we have, but because she posts photos and everyday events on the social media sites and has been for several years. She has been carefully schooled by her parents about the dangers of sharing too much information or about sharing inappropriate information. So far, so good. After our discussion I found myself thinking how nice it would be for me to have a complete record of my life. The older I become, the more there is to remember and the more I seemed to have forgotten.
For me, recalling the past can sometimes be quite a challenge. Unless, the event is tied to a significant emotional response. I have at least one friend who can remember the names of all her teachers from elementary school through high school. My sister can recognize people she hasn't seen in years and my husband's ability to remember where we've traveled and what we've done is amazing. I on the other hand really struggle with those skills. I do, however, remember holding my oldest daughter's hand as we walked together to her pre-school. I remember when my youngest crawled into bed with me early in the morning to hug for a while before she went off to school and I can recall every one of my son's projects and there have been many, because of the excitement he generated as he took them on.
The TV show Sixty Minutes had two separate programs about memory issues. The first was about people who cannot remember faces, not even the faces of their loved ones. They are not ignorant by any means but that part of their brain simply doesn't hold that information. The same program also looked at people who had no directional skills. They were lucky to get out of their own homes. That part of their brain didn't provide that skill. On the second program they interviewed people who could recall every moment of their lives as if they had a file cabinet in their brains and they could access whatever information they needed whenever they needed it. At the time of the show, there were only about a dozen people known world wide with this skill. I am pleased to say, I do not have any of these issues or skills. My memory is selective and challenging but I can easily recognize my loved ones and many others and I have a fairly strong sense of direction but whereas I would like to more clearly remember my past, I would not want to carry every one of those memories with me throughout my life. I think that would be overwhelming and exhausting.
It is, however, very important for me to review the past. It's probably why I keep a journal and a little pocket calendar where I write the day's past events. For me it's like looking in the rear view mirror of the car before changing lanes because them I am aware of what's going on around me. I have found it to be very helpful to put together a yearly family photo calendar. Going back over the year's significant events really helps me to recall that which was important to me and what brought me joy. Otherwise, the year all blends together. Then the years all blend together and those highlights I so enjoyed and those lessons I learned get lost. It's the difference between living a life of many different colors and tastes and living one that's gray and bland.
I have a monthly and a yearly practice of asking myself 10 questions that I feel will improve the quality of my life going forward. I gathered these several years ago from a newspaper article by Sharon Randal from Henderson, Nevada.
1. What was the hardest thing I had to do this year?
2. What was the most fun?
3. What were the milestones?
4. What was my biggest accomplishment?
5. What's something I wanted to do but didn't?
6. What was my biggest surprise?
7. What was the best thing I did for another?
8. What was something I worried about that I don't worry about now?
9. What made me proud?
10. Describe a moment I want to remember.
I feel the only reason to review the past, is to find a way to live better in the future. Look it over, learn the lesson and then let it go. The last part may be the hardest lesson of all.