We all love taking photos of important events and celebrations in our lives. Pictures are great, but good memories are better. Here’s how to stay focused and save those special moments even when you don’t have a camera.
Say you’re out for a run, or a walk and you see a spectacular sunset. Stop! Take the time to observe what you see. Use all of your senses. Smell the air. Remember the location. Frame the picture either in your mind or by using your hands. File your personal snapshot away and pull it out later when you need a pick me up.
A visual frame adds a second level of memory to your image. The scent and sounds around you provide a third. By the time you continue your walk, this virtual photograph will be imprinted on your mind. Why is this important? Because the greater the quantity of peaceful images and joyful experiences you can tuck into your brain, the more inner material you’ll have to draw upon when life seems bleak and unbearable.
Ask a prisoner of war or a hostage victim how they were able to endure, and they’ll tell you it was the images they were able to bring to the surface of their minds and focus upon. It wasn’t the menagerie of fun that filtered past them online or the colorful games that flitted beneath their fingertips. It was actual real-life-experiences that were embedded in their very heart and soul.
On our recent vacation we took numerous photographs of spectacular scenes and prominent places that we can enjoy again and again when we take out our photos or look for them online. But the images that remain in my head will be there forever:
- The hugs from my granddaughters and grandsons telling me how glad they were that I came out for a visit;
- The tears in my daughter’s eyes when it came time to say goodbye;
- My son-in-law’s patience taking us from place to place;
- Seeing each grandchild and great-grand-child up close and savoring each hug.
- Being there for one of them in the ICU when she had a near-death sweep that made life seem so fragile;
- Watching the interactions of parents and children, of grandparents and grandchildren, of lively cousins running and giggling in circles around us and then getting together for an old-fashioned ball game in the cul-de-sac.
These are the kinds of images you savor; the ones you never want to forget that warm your heart long after life has gotten back to normal.
Do I remember what kind of cars my family drives or how clean and neat their houses were? Do I recall what we ate on a given night? Absolutely not! But I do remember each smile, each face, and each sincere hug.
Am I glad I took photographs? Of course; but I also freeze-framed each beloved one in my mind’s eye, complete with my own frame that helps to emphasize how precious each once is to my heart.
It isn’t distance, prison, lack of freedom or old age that is our enemy, but forgetfulness. God bless those who have Alzheimer’s disease! The worst thing to happen to us would be an inability to remember who we are or to have nothing to fall back on when we’re alone.