A while ago I clicked on a twitter link to a TED talk that started with a statement, "Imagine if you could record your life...you can go back and find memorable moments and relive them...sift through traces of time and discover patterns in your own life that had gone previously undiscovered..." The TED talk by MIT researcher Deb Roy went on to show a project that this speaker embarked on that captured on video the first two years of his son' life. While the project was interesting in itself, what really captured my attention was the "question" embedded at the beginning of his presentation.
I reframed it to think about what moments in my life I would have really love to have captured. Whether on video or through some sort of futuristic sci-fi virtual reality where I get to actually relive the moment, there are certainly moments in my life that rise to the top of my mind. I began with asking myself the question, when was I most happy?
For me, I immediately thought of the time I spent with my brother and his wife three summers ago. We spent an afternoon on a hot Northern California summer day sitting together on the edge of a cool river. The older of my two nephews splashed around in the water while we took turns holding the baby. We ate cheese curds with dried apples and drank ice-cold drinks. In that moment it felt like time stopped. The only decisions that needed to be made was whether you would want to go swimming or just sit and watch others playing in the water.
In thinking about this memory I tried to identify the key elements that made it so significant in my mind. Relaxing. Family. Food. Conversation. Clearly these are all very good things. But only when I started to make my list of other moments that I want to relive did I begin to see patterns.
My Short List
- My birthday when a group of friends had a picnic at a winery in Santa Barbara and watched Shakespeare in the park.
- The small backyard dinner party I threw with two friends at Beacon Street. Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas & Black Bean Dip made the menu.
- Bocce Ball & a summer picnic in the park in downtown Bowling Green with new friends from BGSU.
- Canoeing (sans paddle) on the Louisiana bayou with my cousin.
- Enjoying a Fall weather chili cookout "tailgate" before a BGSU football game.
- My first Thanksgiving dinner in Ohio with friends (who took me in) and my very first snow
In making my list, I found that time and time again I think about experiences when I am with friends, times when I am having great conversations, and of course, occasions when I am enjoying wonderful food.
Using the computer, watching TV, and hanging out alone didn't make the short list (or even a long list). Sure, these are all things that I do regularly, but if these are not the moments that I want to remember in my life, it begs the question, is this how I want to be spending my time?
As we head into Thanksgiving, we are often asked, "What are you thankful for?" I encourage everyone who reads this blog to make your own list. Think about the times in your life when you were happiest. Think about moments when you felt most alive. Who were you with and how did you feel? This list can serve as a reminder to you, as mine will for me, about what is most important in your life and how thankful you are for this wonderful moments. Hopefully it will also help you prioritize your time and find ways to make those moments happen more often. Your themes will be different from mine, but what is most important (in the absence of a sci-fi virtual reality) is that you are actively making new memories that bring you happiness.