There are some who are experts at living in the moment and stopping to smell the flowers/roses/cherry blossoms. For constant collectors like yours truly, it’s easier said than done. And by ‘collector’, I probably mean ‘hoarder’. The neatly ordered viking with whom I share a home refers to it as some sort of family ‘condition’ or ‘style’ (quite diplomatically avoiding the term ‘curse’). However, I think my digital/written stores are far worse, a realisation accepted after my computer and phone recently informed me that I’m running out of hard drive and memory space.
I think it began with the mid-study crisis of 2006, which resulted in a uni mate and I planning a three-month jaunt around Europe. My old room at Mum and Dad’s is now packed with fat, dormant photo albums championing the faces of short and sweet comradeship, breathtaking moments and a smattering of not-so-different-after-all cultural experiences (a significant proportion fuelled by Guinness, absinthe and mini Heineken kegs). The 6459 pictures taken represent a quarter of 2007 – memories which at the time, I wanted to savour forever. The number of times I drift into a reverie about that trip now though, I can’t count on two hands – because it stopped happening.
It’s easier to remember when you don’t want to put something in writing; I chuckled with a friend once when she said, “I know how this sounds, and I don’t like doing it, but sometimes it’s better to call my colleagues when contentious issues come up. Then it’s hard to say, ‘Oh, but you said something else yesterday’. Sad but true”.
Then again, sometimes records are paramount. A segment of final year high school English, oddly, springs to mind. It involved a unit called History and Memory. The whole thing covered WWII, with the historical material comprising docos, academic texts and all the rest. The memorial section dealt mostly with Roberto Benigni and his performance in Life Is Beautiful. Our teacher was a genius wordsmith, but unfortunately I can only recall dry phraseology like “documented history” versus “the faculty of memory”.
However, it must have really stuck, because taking a photo honestly feels like a compulsion. Maybe it’s true; you can miss things when all you do is to try to capture them. I found my own history/memory contrast though. Dictionary.com defines hoarding as a supply or accumulation that is hidden or carefully guarded for preservation, future use, etc. Harry Connick Jr yin-yangs this by reflecting on Freddie Mercury: “I’m a huge Freddie Mercury fan. I think he was the end-all. I love his lack of inhibition, his talent, the chances he took. He made mistakes on his records, and he didn’t care.” Harry meant literal records, yeah, but same thing. As long as your memories make you smile.