‘My memory is so bad’.
You might’ve heard that. Is that a legitimate reason to not remember things? Or is it an excuse?
What did people do before photos? Just blank on all significant moments of their lives just days after they happened? For example,,, Person A: ‘Wasn’t our wedding wonderful?’ Person B: ‘Wait, what wedding?’
They either wrote about them, or understood that there’s no other way to remember moments than other than how they take them in. And if they couldn’t describe something, their story sucked and people thought their story sucked. There was no reaching for Youtube when you couldn’t describe how someone does something crazy or going to a photo album because, ‘you know what, I’ll just show you what I mean.’
If you’re somewhere special and someone says, ‘l’ll take a photo so I don’t forget it’, it’s giving yourself permission to forget what it actually felt like, looked like, smelt like to be there, in that moment.
Just like any other function of our brains, memory can be worked on and improved. Ed Cooke has memory like a motherfucker. He started Memrise (this good site for learning languages) and is a Grandmaster of memory. In an hour, he can memorise a number that’s one thousand digits long, But he had to work at it.
Let’s say you’re standing before a massive mountain range and valley, looking out over the ocean at sunrise or watching someone doing something stupid like trying to put your dog in a cardboard box, which my wife just tried to do… Instead of going straight for the camera, so that you’ll be able to remember that moment better, try this:
Activate all your senses, by doing this:
- Look at everything, from an inch away, from a distance, every which way.
- Take a deep breath and just take a whiff of all the smells around you.
- Touch everything you can without interfering with it.
- Close your eyes and just listen. Count all the sounds you hear and tune into them one-by-one.
- Can you taste something from the environment too? Have a drink of water from the creek or just stick a leaf in your mouth.
Ever got down on all fours and walked around the backyard like a dog? Man, do you smell some stuff down there that you don’t standing up. That’s how you remember things – activating all your senses and pounding them with as much data from your environment as possible.
I went to the Buderim falls today and did those things I mentioned. I touched the soaked bark of the trees beside the path, listened to the birds, the waterfalls, the river hammering in front of me, went under water and listened to the thundering sound of the water above, breathed deep and smelled what a tropical forest smells like, looked up, down and on the ground, and also ate a leaf (it tasted like apple skin).
What makes the experience even more memorable is getting hurt. I went directly under the waterfall and got pounded by falling concrete slabs of water right onto my neck and back. Now the right side of neck hurts, but the plus side is I don’t think I’ll forget what that experience felt like.
My wife doesn’t remember things well, so I recommended while walking along the trail through the rainforest, she get down on all fours, put her face an inch from the ground and examine the ground like she’s looking through a microscope trying to split the atom, sniff the ground and maybe even lick the ground. That’s kind of fucked up, yes, but if she did, she definitely wouldn’t forget today’s trip to the rainforest.