“Life is all memory except for the one present moment that goes by so quick you can hardly catch it going.” ~ Tennessee Williams, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore
Like everything else, there are more and less productive kinds of memories. As we try to ‘let go’ of so many things in our lives, and attempt to feel less attached to the things that hold us down, our goal is simple.
We want to be free—from the so-called ties that bind, that keep us forever locked in a series of cycles that go nowhere we can ever reach again.
These are not the kind of memories we want in our arsenal, and it’s in our power to minimize their impact. And we should: we don’t want to be forever looking backward, wondering what might have been, what kind of mistakes we’ve made that we could have handled differently.
On the other hand, the human brain is designed to have us remember things, and this obviously has enormous benefits. Memories orient us, and help us function. This goes without saying.
Nothing, of course, is good or bad in and of itself. It’s how we use it, apply it, regard it, which counts. A person with happy memories is bound to be a happier person than someone who doesn’t.
Memories, like everything else, are associative: they are entirely dependent on outside sources to exist. We can’t make memories without having the people and things around us to form them. Our relationships matter, in every possible sense of the word.
The good news is that we are constantly making new memories, and revising/reconsidering the ones we’ve got. Our worlds are entirely open to our creative input.
In the spirit of feeding our minds and ourselves with the kind of experiences that become myth-worthy, spirit-enhancing memories later on, I’d like to suggest five ways we can make happy memories with our nearest and dearest.
Go on a Trip Together
Getting away somewhere works wonders to recharge and renew the mind. It opens consciousness to the possibilities a new environment affords, and assaults the senses with new delights. The brain (and mind, and body and self) remembers all this, and leaves fresh new imprints for you to make use of for a long time to come.
Having all this magnificence going on with your loved one means that you can both become filled with the new and beautiful together, in a way that is all yours to share long after you come home.
No time or cash to get away? Make it a staycation, preferably taking a day off from school or work because the forbidden is delicious. Turn off phones, computers and anything else that might distract you, and become a tourist in your own city. Show each other your favourite cafes, alleyways, hidden parks and out-of-the-way shops. Discover a new part of where you live—and each other.
Though we know looking into someone’s eyes is a great way to connect, we probably don’t find ourselves doing it all that often, at least with the people we’ve grown most used to in our lives.
Make a point of sitting down with a dear friend, family member or loved one in a quiet space. Sit comfortably—you can also hold hands or rest your hands on the other’s knees if appropriate.
The important thing is to stare into each other’s eyes for a long enough duration that you get past the initial avoidance tactics you might find yourself facing (smiling, giggling, wandering away). I would recommend 10 or 15 minutes. Set an alarm so you don’t have to think about it.
This can be a long time when all you’re doing is looking at each other, trying to be fully present to this moment of sacred connection. Endless stories, feelings, emotions and moments of pure, naked vulnerability—and of course, love—can be found here.
Do an Art Project Together
You don’t have to inherently love art for this one (though a mutual love for a particular art form can make this fun in a whole different way).
Art is one of life’s most precious ways of making itself known and felt. Just by being alive, we are creative beings, and tapping into something inside of ourselves to give form to what naturally is—and to do this with someone else—is an unforgettable experience.
Once, my partner and I took part in a painting therapy workshop, and we learned so much about each other by working silently, side by side, and then seeing and discussing what the other had splashed onto paper after paper without our intervention.
Drawing on a piece of paper together with crayons or markers, making a collage out of magazines lying around the house, building something small out of wood, strumming out a song … all these activities allow us to see ourselves—and each other—in new ways that will now become part of the fabric of who we are as a team.
Let Yourselves Fall Together
Be vulnerable. Decide it’s okay to cry in front of someone, especially if you’re the type to try to keep these things to yourself. Allow yourself to be terrified of something—the dark, spiders, the unknown—and let the person you’re with know it’s okay for them to have fears too.
Without getting too graphic, I once had a horrifying experience in a bathroom at the Kolkata train station in the early stages of my relationship, and I was mortified. But I have only good memories now – of how he took care of me, how we searched the gargantuan station for anything that would detract from the smell of me, how we laughed and laughed about it.
Ceasing to be afraid of showing your weaknesses and fragility to someone else can help you unite in unexpected and long-lasting ways.
Do Something Alone in a Shared Space
“Silence is a source of Great Strength.”
~ Lao Tzu
Once we’re already intimate with someone, it becomes very easy to take them for granted, and stop paying attention, and this is a sure way to stop the flow of shared memory-making.
Rather than ignoring them, make a deliberate, conscious point of being in the same space while engaged in your own activities.
Be comfortable in your shared silence.
Remain alert to the fact that there is another being around you. Be grateful for their presence, and pour love into your environment. Watch how it changes, and rather than feeling listless, you’ll notice a whole new charge in the room, because you are now associating your own activities with the person you love.
And what is meaningful is what is remembered in the most healthiest way imaginable.
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Author’s Own