Image by Marie Vonow
It can be interesting to have a record of things that happened, sights we saw and how we felt in the past. It can also be fascinating to read or look at things that show the experiences of others. Now that I am older I particularly value records of memories of years gone by.
When I was younger I didn't place much value on journals or stories of earlier times. Now I am very pleased to have diaries my mother wrote in the fifties. Luckily I have some letters containing family information and stories. I have a written record of a few events from my personal past but it would be fascinating to have more.
I value photos, especially the old black and white ones that show what places looked like many years ago. Although I try not to hoard, I do wish I had more old photos, especially of buildings which have been knocked down. On the other hand I have culled lots of blurry or nondescript photos of pets, places and people long forgotten and don't regret that.
What are some ways we can record what we are doing, seeing and feeling now
to help us remember in the future? Written records can be in the form of diaries, journals (which may also include sketches, pressed flowers and the like), poems, a few words scrawled on a serviette or something written up on the computer.
Visual records may be photos, videos or some form of art work. Oral histories can be recorded and may be very special because you can hear the voice of the person relating the story. I have two tapes of my mother talking about her childhood and school days. The information is all the richer and more personal to me as I am able to hear my mother's voice again.
When I come across one of my own records of some time in the past I realise how much I have forgotten. I often have little or no recollection of the events. I have found I often don't express my feelings in prose records of events. It is in poetry that my deeper emotions come out.
This year I am keeping a personal diary. If I don't write it up for two or three days, sometimes I find I have already forgotten much of what I did on a particular day. Please tell me this is normal and not a sign of a failing memory.
Sometimes it is difficult to know what to record and in how much detail. Sometimes an event which seems insignificant at the time ends up being of great importance in our life. Other events which one would think are important end up not being.
If we attempt to record too much the task can be overwhelming. Storing the information in a logical way so we can retrieve it later can tricky. I find it hard to know the best way to catalogue my digital photos many of which I have taken because they might be useful for an article.
I also ask myself why
I think I should make a record of something. Is it for my own interest or for younger generations? What will they be interested in? I don't want to accumulate too much clutter or place too great an emphasis on the past. These days we are always being told to live in the present.
I do not wish to inflict clutter on others. However, we don't know what will be of interest to others in the future so I want to avoid discarding things that could be of interest.
Whilst it is important to avoid going overboard with recording our memories it is nice to have some tangible proof such as a diary or photos of times gone by. Walter Scott said, 'What is a diary as a rule? A document useful to the person who keeps it. Dull to the contemporary who reads it and invaluable to the student, centuries afterwards, who treasures it.'
# The Past