“Life is a tapestry woven by the decisions we make.” – Sherrilyn Kenyon
We can lament that life is short and be paralyzed with fear over making a mistake, or we can appreciate that we live and breathe today and can embrace life joyfully and with purpose. Acting upon our belief that life is worth living, and living well, we can then recognize that what we do today can both fulfill and sustain us. We must be bold and act without fear, even though we may stumble in some of our endeavors. Through it all, the rich detail of each experience creates memories to cherish and revisit, to share and be inspired by.
What is it about experience that contributes to memories? Are some experiences better than others for making an indelible imprint, a lasting impression? Granted, experience and memory are highly personal and vary from one individual to the next. Two people (or many) sharing the same experience results will have different memories of it. While it can be said that all experience is the foundation of memories, here are some broad categories that rise to the top of memory-producing experiences.
Life growing up is a natural shaping experience. You learn and grow and become wiser for it. Sometimes the process is brutal, even cruel, while at other times the path forward seems to gently unfold without too much difficulty or veering off in the wrong direction. Still, the shaping experiences that most contribute to memories are the ones where you had to endure more than you thought yourself capable of, where you had to keep at it to make it through to the end. Choosing a difficult path, embarking on a seemingly impossible task, taking on more than you should at one time may show you what you’re made of in more ways than the successful completion of any single endeavor. Overcoming a deficit of a dysfunctional family, shepherding siblings where a parent or caregiver is absent, neglectful, addicted or abusive and emerging a caring, generous, loving, resourceful and determined adult is a stellar example of a shaping experience. The memories it creates may be bittersweet, yet they’re an integral part of who you are and what you’re capable of.
Weddings, birthdays, promotions, baptisms, confirmations, anniversaries, holidays, winning a prize or recognition — the list of celebratory experiences throughout the year and all of life provides endless opportunities for memories. Instead of thinking so hard about what kind of memories will result, live in the moment of the experience. Take it all in, the good and the bad, for life is a mixture of positive and negative, without which neither would be satisfactory.
When you know that you’re in over your head and decide to accept a challenge anyway, this sets the stage for an experience you’re bound to remember. The stronger your motivation to succeed in the challenging experience, the more likely you’ll be to find clever, workable solutions to any problems you encounter along the way. If someone says you can’t succeed and you’re determined anyway to proceed, you’re taking on the challenge. Win or lose, you’re in it for the duration. Lessons learned will prove useful regardless of the outcome. You’ll not only benefit from the experience, you’ll also have added knowledge to call upon in the future.
Experiences Overcoming Hurdles
Not every plan proceeds without obstacles. Some hurdles seem Herculean, while others occur in a drip-drip-drip fashion that produce a cumulative effect bordering on failure, fostering the desire to quit for something easier and more quickly accomplished. The process of overcoming hurdles builds character, encourages innovation, stimulates problem-solving and allows for the acceptance of assistance from others. Such experiences are overflowing with opportunities for memories.
Embarking on a trip to a foreign land, taking up painting or another creative endeavor, enrolling in a class or learning a skill or trade, even making the decision to take a scenic side trip or alternate route to a destination offer experiences different than what you’re used to, what may be more comfortable or expected. The unknown beckons. It’s human nature to be curious, to want to see where this road leads, to set off on an adventure. Consider that the family vacation is the typical way to explore unknown destinations, yet this metaphor applies to all discovery/creation experiences. Each can contribute to that rich tapestry of life that is rich in memories.
Human Connection Experiences
Perhaps the most intimate and earth-shattering experience of human connection is romantic love. Anyone who’s experienced it can attest to the fact that it’s something you never forget. All the intertwined moments, the anguish of being apart, the exquisite torture of being together in the expression of physical love and emotional closeness make romantic love unforgettable. Yet, other forms of human connection experiences are also the basis for memories. Hanging out with best friends, sharing times with family, working with colleagues, collaborating with classmates, enjoying activities with neighbors, meeting new people and helping others in need create their own kind of memorable human connection experiences, along with memories to cherish and share.