A life recorded
How can I capture?
Memories, both good and bad
As the years fly by?
Every now and again this is a question I briefly ponder. Most of the time I'm too caught up in the daily to and fro of life to actively write anything down or consciously photo-document life.
I briefly kept a journal when I was 17 or 18 (way before smartphones!) and did fairly well with this blog during lockdown. For a few years we even made modern photo storybooks to celebrate events or stages of life (the equivalent of my Mother-in-Law's handcrafted scrapbooking).
I made a break with social media a few years ago so don't have an ongoing record of my life there. I did get my family (both sides) using a private photo-sharing app called Cluster so we do have family albums going back to 2016.
...I guess a key question though is not how? but why? and (related to this) for whom? Is it for me, so that in years to come I can look back and have written and photo aides-memoires? Is it for my daughter (and any subsequent generations) so she can have a better understanding of who I am and what I've done in my life? Is it for the wider world when I publish my award winning autobiography of A.N.Other life most (extra)ordinary?
The details do matter but I've also come to realise that what matters more is how they weave together to create stories and relationships. My Dad didn't keep a diary and there are many details of his life (especially before we came along!) that I will now never know. But in the last months leading up to his death, filling in those details wasn't important – I knew what he meant to me and finding the opportunities just to be together was what mattered, such as sitting with him listening to music late at night.
I do wish I'd taken a few videos of him with my daughter to go along with the handful of photos we have but it felt a little macabre and awkward whereas what I really wanted was to be present as they interacted, not behind the screen of a phone or camera.
Is there a conclusion here? Not really. I may make a more concerted and mindful effort to journal and photo-document but we live in a digital world where even the most lackadaisical approach will gather a richer record of life than the analogue age I grew up in. I think the trick may be in carving out time to weave it all into stories – but being present in the here and now comes first.