No memory is ever alone; it is at the end of a trail of memoirs, a dozen trails that each have their own associations Louis L’Amour
Yet, it is often a struggle to write detailed life stories as time has faded many memories. The book Total Memoir Makeover by Marilu Henner offers surprisingly abundant techniques that will assist detailed recall. These details will produce not only a vibrantly alive personal memoir, but also tools for living a more vibrantly alive more present and future life.
She introduces her subject of memory with this line:
In every single moment of your life- past present and future –memory is involved; all of life experiences have conscious meaning in your life’s experiences today.
How to recall those moments?
If one wants to remember, you must prime yourself to remember, by taking actions to remember. Seems obvious, yet not so obviously done.
She offers techniques from other memory enhancement books. One simple example is making a grocery list, like needing orange juice. Some memory books suggest that you turn in your kitchen and tag each needed item to an object there, like orange juice to the fridge. Another memory enabling book suggests a cartoon-like image like imagining the orange juice exploding in the refrigerator. But, I prefer her suggestion for, it is also my own. Imagine the store you frequent, the lay out, and walk the store in your mind, tagging what you need to remember it, so as you walk the store, you recall it.
Similarly, you can place yourself where a memory took place, walk yourself around the area, recalling emotions and physical senses, like smells, and allow yourself to remember what is there. This will bring a full body memory of the event you wish to recall. It is possible to retrieve those details as everything has been recorded in your body and psyche.
But, Total Memory Makeover is far more than a book on memory enhancing skills. She details the ‘Henner’ way. Her father enhanced his children’s memory skills by seeing life as a ballet of three activities for each life event:
This ‘ballet’ applies not only to recalling long past events, but future ones as well. For an annual event like a birthday, much is made about the anticipation, and one participates fully in the actual party. But what most of us failed to do is spend much time recalling afterwards what occurred during the event, recalling and remembering. Now, as we try to recall past prime life moments, we find details are missing. While using these three actions is an exceptional idea for recalling future memoirs, what about the past? Henner’s book offers tools to aid in our poorly done recollection of the past. The more effort we put into recalling, the more we will recall. In recalling life moments, we allow hindsight to highlight an event’s significance in our present day life. The more connection that can be made in the brain, the more integrated the experience is with memory. The more you develop your ability to recall, the more you will recall, more than you can imagine.
Henner suggests that we live a more conscious life, paying attention to details of moments, events, and experience as they occur, to be fully present. By living a more conscious life in the present, we will experience more fully the anticipation of an event, live that moment, and recall it afterwards in detail. We can enjoy the ordinary moments of life, made extraordinary by anticipation, participation and recollection. Every child’s life is ordinary, a progression of skills mapped out in psychology books. But each child’s first learning of these skills is extraordinary to them, and to their parents.
It is this lack of taking time to recollect life events in my past that motivates me now to write down memoirs of my sons’ childhood, assisted yes by photos taken but also with the aids suggested by Henner. Surely my sons and I anticipated an event and participated fully in them. But what was missing was the recollection. To immerse myself in recalling my children’s significant moments, I am once again anticipating the moment, living through it, only this time with an attention to the details. I remember details for stories of my sons’ younger days. When I am gone, they will have their life stories with details only I can know. It will be a legacy to share with their children.
I strongly believe those who’ve lived long in our lives shine on into our future. My granddaughter was born after my mother’s death. Yet, the light of my mother’s life lives on in her grandsons. In 100 years, no one will remember my mother or me. But, each moment that is recalled of me is embedded in hearts, especially my children’s. These moments continue to form their lives, influencing the lives they impact, for future generations. Life events, choices and behaviours of my mother impact me in profound ways, ways that determined my choices with my sons, and now, how they determine choices with their children. All we do is in response to what happened in the past.
Using the memory tools in Total Memory Makeover could transform your memories-those past, and in your future. If you’re under 30, you doubt you’ll forget the details of your life; but if you’re over 60, you are well aware how easily details fade, and are challenging to retrieve.
Writing my children’s significant moments, in details they may not remember, is my legacy to them and a heritage. If this interests you, Henner’s book will help.
Utilizing Marilu’s memory enhancement suggestions will transform your future recall of the days you are living today and those of your past.
When you evaluate your life next year, or 20 years hence, they will be filled with vibrant details to put into your life memoirs.
For ultimately, a life worth living is a life worth remembering.