There seems to be a shift in how we create memories these days. Savoring a moment and making an imprint in your mind and heart was once the seed of a memory. I have been noticing a movement in our current technological culture from being in the moment to what I would call a taking of the moment. Via Snapshot or Selfie. Saved to experience later. Over and over again. The image or impression of what is to be remembered becomes the experience and forms the memory. Stored on your phone, Facebook or Instagram.
What does this mean for our well-being?
This brings to mind an urgent phone call I once received from a young man who was reporting extreme anxiety and requesting a same day therapy appointment. He explained that he was visiting from New Zealand and would only be in New York City for two days. When he entered my office later that day, he sheepishly disclosed the source of his distress. He left his phone in a cab. Embarrassed to reveal his feelings to his friends he sought help from a professional. He described feeling empty, fearful and unrooted. With captured connecting moments gone; a sense of self-vanished. His historical framework disappeared.
Where were the memories?
In the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl comments about the sources of his strength to survive the Holocaust. What kept his hope alive was the ability to conjure up thoughts and memories of his wife. He imagined the prospect of seeing her again: “This intensification of inner life helped the prisoner find a refuge from the emptiness, desolation and spiritual poverty of his existence, by letting him escape into the past. When given free rein, his imagination played with past events, often not important ones, but minor happenings and trifling things. His nostalgic memory glorified them…”