Remembering What We Forget

2017 was a good year, filled with learning, new experiences, and good times with family and friends.  But with all the good memories and experiences I can recall from the past 12 months, I wonder how much of what I did in 2017 I have completely forgotten.

I did some quick math.  Did you know there are 525,600 minutes in a 365 day year?  (I think there’s a song from the musical Rent that mentions this.)  That’s a lot of minutes!  No wonder we forget so much.

While I’m not interested in remembering every one of those 525,600 minutes, I do want to make sure I preserve more of the significant and meaningful memories I’ll make in 2018 and the years beyond.  Doing so not only bring joy, it also improves the quality of our lives.

In an effort to better preserve future memories, my plan is to regularly do the following:

Journal:  While it has been an activity I have struggled to parlay into a daily habit, I really enjoy the act of journaling.  What I enjoy even more is reading, in my own words, about an experience I have forgotten.  It is a great tool for triggering forgotten memories

Take pictures:  Pictures can instantly take me back to a time, place, or experience and instantly fill my mind with great memories.  Therefore, it is also good to display the most meaningful ones so that you intersect with them often.

Recall memories with the people you made them with:  Beyond simply preserving memories, this is a great way to strengthen relationships.

What are some things you can do to preserve the memories you’ll make in 2018 and beyond?  Find a couple of methods for recalling memories and be diligent in employing them.  Then, go and live a life worth remembering.

Experiences Versus Things

Last week my wife and I took our nephew to Crater Lake.  During the school year he did a report on Crater Lake (complete with a presentation in front of the class) so it was fun to be there when he first laid his eyes on the subject of his study.  We all had a great time seeing the lake, taking a tour around the rim, and visiting the lodge and visitor center.  It was a very enjoyable shared experience that we will all remember for many years to come.

I love shared experiences where good lasting memories are made.  Not only does the experience make my life more rich and interesting, sharing the memories with the people who were also there is a great way to not only relive the experience, but to build connections and deepen relationships with those involved.

Isn’t that what life is about:  sharing experiences, creating memories, and building relationships with others?

Keep your eyes open for opportunities to have positive shared experiences with those closest to you and then take advantage of those opportunities.  By doing so you’ll be building relationships as well as memories.

Grateful for the Experience

Early last Sunday morning I was driving home from a weekend fly fishing trip in Central Oregon.  The temperature was a pleasant 70 degrees (Fahrenheit) under a cloudless, sunny blue sky.  It is mornings like this that make me feel especially blessed to be alive.

Since my wife was out of town, I decided to take my time getting home and enjoy being out in such a beautiful part of the state on a morning like this.  It was great!  I stopped at to look at a scenic landmark, walked through the town of Sisters Oregon, and read the Bible along the banks of the awe-inspiring Metolius River.  I felt recharged, inspired, and invigorated.

MetoliusAs I realized it was time to start making my way home, I was a little saddened that my wonderful morning was about over.  I didn’t want it to end.

Have you ever felt like that?  You’re having such a great time that the thought of it coming to an end is rather sad.  That’s how I felt this particular morning.

However, my wonderful morning reminded me of the following quote:  “Don’t be sad it’s over; be grateful you had the experience.”

Sure, it can be sad when something you enjoy comes to an end, like:

  • A fun time away from the regular routine.
  • A visit from a friend or relative.
  • The end of a rewarding job or career.
  • The loss of a beloved pet.
  • A child leaving home.
  • An enjoyable vacation/holiday.

But consider how blessed you were to have had the opportunity to create the memories those things produced.

The next time you’re feeling sad at the end of an enjoyable experience, make the mental shift from sadness to gratitude.  Be grateful for memories you just made, while eagerly looking forward to the new ones yet to come.

The Intersection

On Monday evening January 12th Ohio State played the University of Oregon for the College Football National Championship in Dallas Texas.  What struck me most about the game was not the score or the collective ability of each team, but the very clear life lesson that was on display during the game.  The lesson was that great things happen at the intersection of preparation and opportunity.

Although I was rooting for the University of Oregon, myself being from Oregon, I was really impressed with the performance of the Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones.

Consider this:

  • The National Championship game was only his the 3rd college start as quarterback
  • At the beginning of the season, he was the 3rd string quarterback on his team

I was amazed by these facts while watching the game.  While on the biggest stage in college football, Jones showed the command and poise of a seasoned quarterback.  He didn’t look like a 3rd string quarterback, or someone who had only started 3 games.  He looked like he belonged there.  Was he perfect?  No.  Did he make mistakes?  For sure!  However, he was able to step in for his team when his number was called late in the season and perform extremely well.  Well enough to help win a National Championship.

It is obvious from his performance that he had been practicing and preparing for the opportunity.  His preparation intersected with his opportunity, and great things happened.

If Jones hadn’t been diligent in practice while he was still the 3rd string quarterback, he never would have done so well when he got the nod to lead the offense.  Imagine what a different outcome Jones would have had if he had said, “Once I’m the starting quarterback, then I’ll really start practicing!  However, since I’m only the 3rd string, there’s really no point in doing my best at practice.”  Jones had great performances during his 3 starts because he put in the effort to prepare himself in practice; to be ready for the opportunity, even when he didn’t see one or know that one was coming.

What about you?  Are there areas where you need to begin preparing for a future opportunity?  Is there a class you need to take, a habit or discipline you need to develop or stop?  Is there a reading, networking, exercise, or eating plan you need to get on?  If so, begin today.  Don’t’ delay and think, “I’ll start preparing when I see an opportunity.”  That kind of thinking leaves out half of the intersection equation:  There can be no greatness-causing intersection between preparation and opportunity if opportunity shows up alone.

So begin preparing today for the opportunities you seek in the future.  My guess is that, if you’re preparing, the opportunities are closer than you think.

Take in the Experience

I love to hike, and since I live in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, I’m fortunate to get a large dose of natural scenic beauty on a regular basis.  My favorite hiking destinations are the ones that reward hikers for their effort with a commanding view and breathtaking scenery.  Starting early in the morning on a challenging hike to a much anticipated viewpoint is one of my favorite ways to spend a day.  The anticipation of the view and then finally seeing it with my own eyes is exhilarating.  For me, it’s one of those events that make me thankful to be alive.

Three Sisters Wilderness

Three Sisters Wilderness

One thing I’ve noticed about myself in recent years is that when I reach one of these viewpoints, I immediately begin taking pictures of the scene.  Depending on the view, I can easily take over 100 pictures in my attempt to capture the beautiful scene before me.  I don’t want to miss a single detail!

Inevitably, after several minutes at my feverish picture-taking pace, I begin to hear a voice inside of me saying, “Hey, enough pictures.  Just stop, and take in the experience.”

At that point I put the camera away and just take in the experience with all of my senses.  I literally feast my eyes on the scene before me, noticing shapes, colors, contrasts and myriad other details that I had missed while seeing it through the screen of a digital camera.  I listen to the whooshing sound of the wind as it blows through the tops of pine trees or across the face of a rock-exposed mountain.  I hear the unique sound that a river makes as water curls over a rock and collapses back on itself.  There are also the tactile feelings and fresh smells of the surrounding environment that make for a complete experience.  All of these things I would have missed, had I continued taking pictures.

Those hiking experiences always cause me to wonder what else I may be missing out on in my non-hiking life when I don’t stop and take in the experience.  Where am I busily rushing around, forgetting to stop and enjoy the surrounding environment, event, or people I’m with?  Hiking is good for me in that respect.  It provides me with a mental reset, a reminder to be mindful about taking in the experience, no matter what I’m doing.

What about you?  Are there areas of your life where your too busy “taking pictures” that you’re forgetting to stop and take in the experience?  Start becoming mindful about what you’re doing and who you’re with.  Decide now that although you’ll take some pictures along the way, you’ll also be sure to put the camera down and take in the experience as well.

Are You Squandering Opportunities to Make Memories

Last Tuesday evening at 9:30, my mom called up with an interesting problem.

My 93 year old grandma (aka Granny) had spent the last couple weeks visiting Oregon from Colorado and was scheduled to fly back home the next morning.  In order to ensure Granny had a smooth trip and made her connections, my mother was going to fly back with Granny from Portland to Salt Lake City, then from Salt Lake City to Grand Junction, where Granny’s other daughter would be waiting to take possession.  After the successful “Granny transaction”, my mother would then hop on a plane to retrace her route back to Portland.

The problem was that my mother was currently suffering from a bad bout of vertigo and wasn’t in any condition to drive a car or hop on an airplane in the next 24 hours.  Granny’s flight was scheduled to leave in less than 9 hours.  She asked if I would be willing to fly with Granny back to Grand Junction the next morning.

This was certainly not what I thought I would be doing the next day before the phone rang.  My initial reaction to the request was to think of all the things I had to do the next day, and how fulfilling this request really wasn’t possible.  As a few seconds passed and I thought further, there really wasn’t anything that was so critical that it couldn’t be delegated or even wait a day until I got back.  My initial thoughts quickly dissipated and I began to see this request as an unexpected opportunity for an adventure.  I would always have routine work related things to do, but how often would I have the opportunity for a trip like this with my lively and spirited Granny?  I said, “Yes”.  I’m so glad I did!  Not only did we make a lot of memories, we had a great time.

Granny

Sometimes our initial reaction to a new request or opportunity is to quickly determine why it won’t work or why we “can’t” do it.  I think this type of reaction serves only as a factory to crank out lame excuses to keep us from venturing outside of our comfort zone.  How can we ever expect to have new and memorable experiences if we think no further than our initial reaction telling us why something can’t be done?

Start recognizing this initial reaction in you when you’re presented with a new adventure or opportunity, and begin to think in terms of “why not?” and say, “Yes!” to these opportunities as often as you can.  Not only will you have fun making memories and experiencing new adventures, you’ll have a more exciting and interesting life as well.