Memories Are Made of This?

I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse.

Take a holiday on me for two weeks. Any holiday, halfway up a mountain, fully stretched on a beach, or anything in between. Off you go, you and your chosen companions. Memories are made of this.

Oops, for a moment I forgot. Memories. That’s the catch. What my mother used to call the fly in the ointment. You can’t tell anyone. I mean that literally. You can’t tell anyone because you can’t remember anything about it. Nothing at all.

Photos, videos, cute toy animals dressed up as national symbols, even your tell-tale tan will disappear the moment your holiday is over. And all those postings you put on Facebook or Twitter? No you didn’t. You just thought you did at the time.

Have I just been kidding around? This fantastic holiday didn’t happen? Yes it did. You experienced it. You just cannot recall that experience.

So, is it so hard to refuse this offer of mine? I suspect not, because everything we say about travel, everything we read and tell each other has that vital engine ‘memory’ driving it.

“The great adventure is to move”, said Robert Louis Stevenson. How did he know if he didn’t remember it? How do we know we’re having a good time unless we can recall our feelings at the time? And how else can we explain our mania for taking pictures and videos of everything we see if memories, and the sharing of them, don’t demand it.

Don’t you find it interesting that we take just as much trouble capturing the beauty of a location on our cameras as seeing it for ourselves?

This is one of the ways that we ‘capture an experience’ and file it away in our memories. Another is traveling with a companion. How wonderful is a sunset when we can’t ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ about it with a loved one and talk about it for weeks, sometimes years afterwards?

I once made a trip around Italy with a friend who refused to take photographs, explaining that he wanted to remember each glorious view, fabulous restaurant, heart-breaking work of art as itself, not as something seen through a camera’s lens. But what about when you get home, I asked? When you want to relive those moments you won’t have any pictures to remind you. He replied that he didn’t need them, that the experience at the time had been enough. “Besides,” he said, “ with a mind uncluttered by memory I’ve got more time to explore other places and other experiences.”

This friend of mine was a firm believer in the nature of two selves. Our Experiencing Self, which is the way we’d like to think of ourselves, living in the present, catching the moment and rejoicing in ‘carpe diem’. The other is our Remembering Self, which, it turns out, is probably the one that runs our lives. It helps us work out if we’re having a good time. ‘Travel broadens the mind’ goes the old adage. How could that work if we forgot all about it the minute we returned home?

My pal, let’s call him Russell, because that was his name, also maintained that his Experiencing Self took a more honest approach to holidays, saying that while the camera probably doesn’t lie the person clicking the shutter almost certainly does.

Girded on by our Remembering Selves we can turn what was a disappointing break with several miserable, rainy days and dull experiences into a great holiday. How? On the one sunny day we go swimming with whale sharks, or jump off the side of a cliff with only a kite for company or take a trip in a hot air balloon. All the photographs will be of whale sharks and crazy people flying kites and hot air balloons. A great holiday will be recalled forever.

So what rules you? Your Experiencing Self? If so, you might even take up my offer, especially if it’s only for a few days and possibly to a place you know well. Or do those photograph albums on your shelves and the thousand or so pictures in your computer give the game away? They remind your Remembering Self that life is for living. Just in case you forget.


tellurideID 93368 Telluride Mountain Log Cabin.
Close to nature, glorious views, comfy, woodsy break and wonderful memories all ready to be filed.

saigonID 243193 Xuyen Moc Distrcit, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Vietnam.
A stunning beach house with everything you could possibly want. Utmost luxury at home and just 2 hours from Saigon.

italy loftID 100540 Ancient loft home in Italy’s lake district.

Snow in winter, splashed with Italian sun in summer, room for 2 couples 4 children.

2 Comments on “Memories Are Made of This?

  1. Just looking, no matter how beautiful, is meaningless. It has to be enjoyed. If you remember it once, that doubles the joy… or arguably almost doubles it. The entire progress of our society is the result of preserving experiences. Is progress good or bad? That is the question… tfl

    • I love your thoughts, Brad. There is a wonderful song by Simon and Garfunkel called Book Ends. ‘Preserve your memories’, it advises, ‘they’re all that’s left you.’
      Do memories need photographs as their spur? Or is it the other way around. Interesting.

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