Have you ever looked back on a photograph and immediately felt the sense of nostalgia? As if looking at that image brought you back to that exact moment in time? Memories are an important part of all of our lives. However, capturing the experience while also being in the moment can be a challenging task.
We are constantly hearing the expression "live in the moment", but we often use this phrase as an excuse to disregard the future. Many justify their impulsive actions with this in order to assume no responsibility for the future. However, on the contrary, living in the moment is an expression to remind us that life unfolds in the present and that we should undertake our thoughts in awareness - not a rationalization to living recklessly. Ironically, living in the moment can help you preserve memories for the future. Often, we're so trapped in thoughts of the future or the past that we forget to experience, let alone enjoy, what's happening right now. Living in the moment is a paradox, because when we are focusing on the present, this will contribute to a happier future.
In Psychology Today's article, "The Art of Now" it writes:
"In her memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about a friend who, whenever she sees a beautiful place, exclaims in a near panic, 'It's so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!' 'It takes all my persuasive powers,' writes Gilbert, 'to try to convince her that she is already here.'"
I'm sure we have all observed or personally experienced similar situations. If you have recently visited any tourist attraction, most individuals are affixed to their cell phones or cameras, neglecting to sit back and enjoy the view. However, it is difficult to not do so, especially when that photograph will be a cherished item many years from now.
Just as often as being too distracted by our cameras, I'm certain that we've also experienced the opposite, forgetting to document that special moment with a deceased loved one or of a once in a lifetime trip. Your children will never look as precious as they did in their matching holiday pajamas last Christmas. Your time in college flies by, and being able to look back on photographs of your first day of class or the time that maybe you shouldn't have done the keg stand at alumni weekend, will bring you back to the carefree memories of your youth. Will this be the last Mother's Day being able to celebrate your mother in person? Those moments are unrecoverable and the sentimentality of those photographs will hold true for many years to come.
Thus, the question arrises, how do we navigate the precarious balance between living in the moment and preserving the memory? Below are ten tips on preserving the memory while still being able to enjoy the occasion.
1. Don't stress about capturing the perfect photo. Take enough pictures to jog your memory. The meaning behind the photograph is more important then having an image worthy of National Geographic.
2. If you're at a wedding, take a few photographs of your own, but let the hired, professional photographer do his job to capture the details while you enjoy the day with friends and family.
3. Keep a journal. And write in it every night. In a few years, or even months, having that first person narrative of all the details will be just as special as a photograph.
4. Print, frame, and hang your photographs around your home. Too often we only store our photographs on our computers and forget about them. When we are able to view them everyday, the sentiment will bring happiness to our daily routines.
5. Use digital photo sharing websites like Flickr or Smugmug to safely store and share photographs with friends and family. Give Grandma and Grandpa the link to access these photos, keeping them updated on your child's big moments.
7. When experiencing a trip or event with others, have everyone share their photos in a Facebook message. This way, if you forget your camera for an event or miss a special moment, you'll be able to look back on your friends' photos.
8. Make home videos. Gathering family and friends around the television to watch old home videos is something that the next generation will not have the privilege of doing. With video cameras becoming out of fashion, take the initiative to record video on your cell phone. Remember to frequently transfer the video to your computer as film requires a substantial amount of storage.
9. Take advantage of your cell phone to capture the memory, but ensure you're not getting distracted by texting or surfing the web.
10. At a special event, designate a friend who the event does not directly involve to take the photographs. This allows you to enjoy your child's baptism or birthday party and still have the photographs to reminisce at.
So next time you're cherishing a special moment, remember to document it while still living in the moment. As Ferris Bueller once said:
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."
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