Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.
– Oscar Wilde
We take memory for granted because we’re too busy making memories. No pun intended. In light of my dad’s passing away 14 years ago around this time, I wanted to write a tribute post on memory. In particular, I wanted to highlight the reasons that we should cherish memories, how to cherish them, and ways to improve memory.
I lost my dad to cancer when he was 47 years old. Although his life was short, he lived it more fully than anyone else I’d known. He was a child in a man’s body. Big Mike they called him but to me he was tako, an endearing term for tata (dad). I remember him full of energy, humour, thirst for knowledge, and love for his family.
Even though I haven’t known him long, I’ve known him long enough to know that he can never be replaced. I have many fond memories of dad that I cherish, such as when he taught me how to ride a brand new red bike, when we went to a video rental store together (we watched over 1000 movies!), when he took me and my sister to a circus and we took a picture with a baby monkey, when he saved me from a big wave that came crashing down on me, when he raced with me, teased me, helped with school projects, played Sorry! with me, covered my textbooks in design paper meticulously so as to keep them from withering, embraced me when I had vertigo and told me that everything will be ok, buying a bag of chips at midnight just because I craved it, buying me hot chocolate whenever he drove me to work, and later, after getting married, asking me if I’m happy.
When life is nearing the end, all we have left is memories – the things we did, the experiences we tried, and the people we met – to contemplate about. Nothing becomes as important as reliving those memories as we lie in bed waiting for the inevitable. For that reason alone, make every day count.
Visit the places you dream of, discover new places in your city, routes, get lost. You never know what fortune is waiting on the other end.
Give generously. You will never regret giving something of yours away. You are far more likely to regret not giving away anything or not giving enough.
Connect with people. Offer kindness everywhere you go, even if you are not met with kindness.
Conquer your fears. Give new experiences a try. Ever wanted to try jet skiing, sky diving, bungee jumping, or something a little less intensive like dance classes, playing an instrument, or writing? The time to start is now!
Make room for what matters. And what matters is you making memories, either by yourself or with the help of friends and family.
Don’t fall into the trap of making excuses for lack of time and money. There is always enough time if you truly love something, even if it’s 1 hour a week dedicated to your beloved activity. Or 10 minutes a day.
Don’t neglect your wishes or you will run the risk of regret.
If you are short on money, look at your budget and see what you can really do without then save that money instead for an activity or trip on your wish list.
Another reason that memory is important is that it makes us vulnerable. Contrary to popular belief, being vulnerable is a good thing. It makes us come face to face with the most raw and pure feelings within us from which we can learn a lot.
Naturally we connect all experiences with feelings. It’s in our best interest then to process memories and learn the feelings from those memories, in order to better guide us in the future when presented with similar experiences or situations.
How can memory be improved?
Well, it starts with a healthy lifestyle consisting of a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and enough quality sleep.
You can also force your brain to learn a new skill (i.e. a new language). This collection of websites is a great starting point which offers resources based on the skill you want to learn. There are lots of good suggestions in the comments section too.
I hope I’ve given you something to think about in terms of delving on and preserving your memories, as well as making new ones. Now go on, colour your day with the wildest palette imaginable! Make life interesting for yourself and those around you, especially your kids, so that one day they too can cherish the sweet memories of their parents.
I will leave you with a quote that sums up well my intentions for this post:
Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable. – Sydney J. Harris
What are some of your fondest memories and how do you keep focused on making new ones?