Recollection

It’s probably set in the kitchen in my parents old house. Habitat (?) wallpaper, and a wall mounted set of scales with a dark blue bowl. I think that’s where it’s from, or it’s entirely possible that old photos have further blurred my increasingly bad memory.

I can remember one Christmas morning, before my sister arrived, leaping on to my parents bed and opening my He-Man presents. Again, there is a photo somewhere of that moment which might be why it sticks in my mind so vividly, and this matches most of my memories that can be traced to a photo. Mind you, for some reason it is Christmases that loom largest in my memory, so perhaps there is a level of emotional attachment at play.

My fondest memories of our family Christmases were just that, a time for just the five of us (my parents, myself, my sister, and the dog), all in good spirits, all happy and together. These are always the best memories and those early mornings, chomping on chocolate coins and reading my Oor Wullie annual loom large whenever I cast my mind back to my childhood.

I’ve tried to push my mind further back a few times, tried to get back to the house I spent the first three years of my life in, but I don’t even get a hazy hint at those days. In this example the photos don’t help as I clearly don’t have any memories to grasp on to in the first place. That said, given my parents old house was the family home for 40 years of my life, it’s no wonder that all of my oldest recollections stem from that place, those rooms, our garden, and all the wonderful times spent there.

These days I take a lot of photos, partly because I enjoy photography but more and more I realise it’s a way to capture the memories as they happen as I fear I will forget them, a fear that grows the older I get. Of course the ubiquity of having a phone in my pocket everywhere I go makes this much easier, and I wonder how this wonderful little gadget will impact future generations, how will their memories be impacted? What will their favourite recollections be compromised of?

My recollections are more than the images they represent, of course they are, and photos are just an easy way to trigger those, and for the most part I’m pretty good at putting the camera away and living in the moment itself, for without the emotional connection, without something else to grasp on to, photos are simply a flat, dimensionless trick, a rendering of a time and place that holds no value.

A while ago I realised that I should be more focused on creating more of those connections, and more recently I’ve been mindful of how often I dive behind the camera and make more of an effort to find the balance, putting the camera aside and enjoying each moment as it happens and I find that my more recent memories, ones spent experiencing the moment first hand rather than via the glow of a screen, live larger and brighter in my memory.

Every day Facebook reminds me of memories from last year, and as I pause to look at those photos I find I can recall more than I see, and perhaps my memory isn’t all that bad after all. The details I can recall are all the better for having been present at that time and I find my mind able to recall more and more details of those past events.

I realise now that those will always be the recollections I strive for as they give me a richer pathway to past memories that I hold dear. And those are always the best things to remember.

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