How to Make Lasting Memories

Sophisticated cameras nowadays can capture images so vivid that they seem more real than real-life. But sometimes, seeing a new place from behind the lens of a camera might enhance the one aspect, but limit the sensory experience overall.

When I visited Martha’s Vineyard for the first time nearly seven years ago, I decided to go without a camera. I considered buying a disposable one since I would be experiencing many quintessentially New England (read: WASP-y) things for the first time. But I had just recently seen Before Sunrise and taken inspiration from a scene in which Jesse takes a mental picture of Celine as a way to remember her: “So I never forget you, or all this.” (In the clip below, the scene begins around 8:00.) Thanks to Before Sunset, the sequel, we know how that turns out—ten years later, he really never forgets!

So I decided to try it out. At each new turn of the road or new experience, I paused to take a mental picture.

The result? I don’t have any physical (or for that matter, digital) pictures to revisit and I haven’t been back since, yet my days on Martha’s Vineyard comprise my most vivid collection of photos. The small dock where we boarded the bike ferry. The large hill that I struggled to climb, the dappled sun warming my back through the trees. The dude in plaid shorts and popped-collar polo who asked us for a lift near the carousel; the lighthouse at dusk. The shore just steps from the porch of E’s family’s house, where the hammock was still swinging after we took off running for the water past the hedge. The briny smell along the rocky pier where gulls perched atop wooden posts; trailing my fingers in the cold water as we skimmed its surface in a small sailboat.

Once in a while, it’s good to put the camera and guidebook down, and just remember to breathe the air and savor the experience.

How to make lasting memories? Savor the moment you’re in—stretch it out for an extra three seconds. Smell the roses if you’d like; concentrate on a detail; finish the last bites of your dinner a little more slowly. Take it all in and record it in your mind, not just in your camera.


3 thoughts on “How to Make Lasting Memories

  1. You bet. I hate that camera. It wrecked my walks: I kept looking for good shots and bitching about the head-on sun or lamenting that I wasn’t there in the morning instead of at noon, for instance. So silly. Of course your memories are better but better still if you can get them in writing as you did. I liked the hammock still swinging.

    1. It takes some self-control, doesn’t it? The urge to see the world through a viewfinder/LCD is almost irresistible, but it’s pointless to have photos left of things you didn’t really see in the first place. Love your blog—I love art, but I like it even better when I know about the context and history in which it was made. Look forward to reading your explications!

  2. Thanks. That’s good about having in your pictures much that you didn’t see when you took them. Though with all the pixels it’s great fun to enlarge them and discover stuff, no?

    Funny, I’ve been in Spain so long and heard and spoken so much Spanish that I had to go and look if “explication” really existed in English. Here you always have to tell English-learners that the translation of their explicación is not explication but explanation. By forbidding it in their vocabulary I guess I exiled it from my own.

    I’m glad you like the blog. There’s quite a bit on Spain in my other one:
    Keep up the good posts here.

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