We are planners. You’ve most likely heard your parents say, “think about your future,” at some point in your life. It’s easy to get caught in the grind, constantly collecting goals and to-dos in endless lists. From the grocery list on the fridge to your work calendar at the office, we find ourselves effortlessly traversing and organizing the future. Advertising, media, and a human desire to achieve more all drive us to dwell on what we don’t have and what we haven’t achieved, rather than appreciating all that we have already accomplished.


So, what about the past?


The old saying, “time flies,” has stuck because of its pertinence from person to person across the generations. Think back through your time in school, work, and your children’s first birthdays and the years seem minute and insignificant. This holds especially true as technology advances and instant entertainment and work resources become increasingly accessible, enthralling us for hours a day with updating statuses, sifting through data, and playing word games with friends. What seems like minutes is actually hours. Reversely, this same technology is what gives us the ability to capture any moment and share it with ease.


It’s the power of these captured moments that allow us to see the wealth of experiences we’ve shared and goals we’ve achieved overtime. Flipping through a photo album or watching home videos can reinvigorate your memories and sense of accomplishment by showing you how you spent your time. As we age, it becomes more difficult for us to recall past experiences. That’s why many memories we have of our childhood come from looking at photographs and videos. Your favorite swing set in the park and your grandmother’s front porch, all preserved through the lens of your camera and the stories of loved ones written down.


For some, pictures or videos can seem artificial and staged as you pose next to your birthday cake, surrounded by family and friends. Someone presses the shutter button and runs into the frame before the flash goes off. Everyone then sits down as the cake is cut and you think about the pile of unopened presents. When rediscovering the picture years later, you don’t simply remember the moment the camera flashed, but the entire event. Captured moments provide context that will spur a domino effect of memories and feelings.


It is in this domino effect that memories can provide perspective. Looking at the past can help cement past experiences of struggle, achievement, relationships, or loss. Knowing these experiences can bring newfound appreciation to what you have in the present moment and a realization of how far you’ve come since then. For example, as parents it’s easy to feel trapped in a whirlwind: making breakfast, getting kids ready for school, pickup, homework, the struggles at bedtime, the list goes on. Revisiting old pictures and videos can help you realize how much your kids have grown and developed. The trials of the day can melt away as you realize the precious times you enjoy together and the wonderful little people all your hard work has created.


As we rely more on our mobile devices and our mobile devices offer more to us, our past becomes a stream of digital memories, archiving our progression through life. We live in an age where we are offered the unique opportunity to gain perspective across generations and renew an appreciation of the past easier than ever before. This gives us the tools to relive our experiences through digital memories, if only one remembers to collect them…

Cory Bailey
Cory is an English major at Furman University in Greenville, SC. His study abroad experience in the British Isles motivated him to find new ways to preserve and share his travel stories. This search led him to Arkiver where he now contributes useful and entertaining blogs.