Years down the road, you're going to want to remember this summer. You're going to be wildly appreciative of the sights, smells and sounds that instantly teleport you to the good times and the bad, which you'll look back at with a fondness for the stuff of youth. By RACHEL CHO.
The obvious thing to do is to keep a journal. It's a little easier said than done, but it's well worth the effort. Not only does journaling provide you with an avenue by which to walk through your thoughts and feelings – organising them, clarifying them, coming to terms with them – but it is a also a time capsule. It's a tool which enables you to look back on times of your life not in retrospect, but in the way that you saw them at that time.
Due to cognitive biases and the fallacies of memory, we tend to look back on events with altered perceptions. "I knew from day one..." you say, as you recall a memorable past event. Your journal indicates that you didn't. Your past writings in fact, tell you that you had no idea what was coming. Journaling isn't just looking back, but it takes you back, and that's the kind of thing that memory often fails us at.
Bear in mind that this is only for you, so the essence of journaling is the freedom from self-censorship that social life normally doesn't allow us.
You can write or make videos about your thoughts and feelings, your goals and your memories, for yourself. If writing an entry every day is a bit too demanding for you, bullet journaling is easier and just as beneficial.
Write three bullet points a day, covering whatever you like; thoughts of the day, the most memorable event, or a note to self for the next day. Being quick and concise, it's a good way to summarise each day into something memorable and lasting.
Have fun with compartmentalising! Use different journals for different things; your Moleskine for thoughts and ideas that need exploring, the wooden one you got for your birthday to carry all your short term and long term goals, a calendar journal for exercise and study commitments.
Sometimes the approach to journaling is so broad that you don't even know where to begin, so it's easier to forgo starting at all. Having different journals also gives you an incentive to fill each one up with its respectively assigned purposes. If this is too much, one journal for everything is also raw and organic in its way of being jumbled and all over the place – which is what we are as human beings anyway, and the verbalised heap of thoughts, ironically, helps us organise them better.
Writing isn't the only way to journal; video is also a fun medium of documentation. Take a video of yourself every week, talking about about the highlights and lowlights of that week. Over time, you don't just end up with an accumulation of passages and words, but a fun record of what you looked like, your mannerisms, the way you spoke at that stage in your life.
There are other fun ways to document time periods, such as wearing the same perfume or cologne for one period of time. But the catch is that you never wear it again. Be it a summer, a Christmas in Europe, your first year of university, whatever. The strong links between smell and memory mean that when you come across a specific scent some way along the road, you will be bombarded with a series of images and brief, momentary semblances of the emotions you experienced at the time that you wore the scent.
It's the same with music. There is that one song that we have a particular affinity with when we're hurling through life's curveballs and fun. The newly-in-love song, the break-up song, the comfort song, the song that overplayed on the radio along with a blossoming new friendship. It takes you back to feelings.
And memory falls short of that, as memory can alter those emotions.
Documenting your life through the mediums of language, sights, smells and sounds enables you a brief window to the past in ways that can lead you down a path of visceral nostalgia and appreciation. Bring on 2015!
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