A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were listening to a TED talks playlist while doing a bit of spring cleaning. We stumbled across this great talk by Joshua Foer on ‘Feats of memory anyone can do‘. In it he explains, from personal experimentation, how much we are able to remember if we give our full attention, if we are mindful and if we process our experiences deeply.
He concludes by saying “if you want to live a memorable life you have to decide to be the kind of person who remembers to remember”.
The other day I stumbled across all the letters I had sent to my wife during a year we spent apart exactly 15 years ago (she had kept them all together in a folder). I have spent most of the last few days engrossed in reading these letters and notes, 15 years on from when we had written them.
It was incredible to go back into my own 21 year old mind, to be reacquainted my younger self. Through these words, I was taken back to my mindset and my experiences, many of which I had forgotten. Remembering the events, emotions, conversations, feelings, sacrifices, friendships, highs & lows, lessons, insights and learnings from our year apart was amazing.
As I looked back I was so glad that we wrote such long letters and that we had looked after them for the past 15 years. Without them I could not have re-lived, re-examined and revelled in the amazing experiences and memories of my year in India (at Tatvagnan Vidhyapeeth – School of Philosophy).
As Joshua says in the video “we are our memories, so to live a memorable life you have to remember to remember”, I definitely feel richer for remembering. We are so busy in our lives, our attention is pulled in so many directions, it’s easy to sleepwalk, rush, through this already fast paced life. To treasure it and to remember it, we need to stop daily and write, review, reflect.
We need to write letters, or a journal, so that we can deeply process our experiences, thoughts and feelings. I feel that journaling is the single most important gift I could offer anyone I know or care about: just take 20 minutes out each morning or evening to do it. (Recently my wife and I have re-started our 5am routine: We wake up and do Surya Namaskar (Yoga & Pranayama) for 20 minutes, then we both write in our Journals (reflecting on the previous day and our goals) for 20 minutes and finally we read something (thoughtful or inspiring) together for 20 minutes.)
As I look back I am really pleased with our journey over the past 15 years. As I look forward I have no idea what the world will be like in 15 years time. In 2030 I will be 51 years old; my children will be in their early 20s and my parents will be over 75 years old. One thing is for sure I don’t want to let the next 15 years get lost by sleepwalking through life or by not paying enough attention.
Where would you like to be in 2030? What will you remember to remember? When will you start journaling?