I've spent a great part of the last 18 months simply remembering my life. In lieu of very little, I find myself recalling experiences and acts that I haven't thought about in years; perhaps even since they happened.
Spending all night playing computer games with my little brother. Dancing down the Albert Dock with Charlotte. My first few months in University. Travelling around Europe with Hannah.
As far as I can tell, there has been no consistent trigger for these memories, but for one reason or another they have each crept to the forefront of my mind for a time, only to retreat back into my subconscious moments later. With each of these recollections comes a feeling that might most aptly be described as 'bittersweet'. Whilst these memories hold great significance, the inability to revisit or relive these experiences is a constant source of frustration for me.
This is why I love to have a record of things. Whether it's through my films, my photographs, or my writing, the documenting of these memories lends them a level of substance that they could never have just dancing around inside my head.
I'm a strong believer in the importance of memories. More than anything else in this world I believe we are shaped by our experiences. Our memories are essentially nothing more than subjective interpretations of these events, and in many ways, we allow ourselves to be defined by how we remember something; even if that memory doesn't entirely reflect the original truth of the situation.
With that said, it's important that we don't manufacture these experiences. With the uprising of social media and camera-phones, it's all too easy to live life through the eyes of your lens. There's only so many times you can filter and crop an image before the memory that the picture was meant to represent is completely unrecognisable. Such is the selective memory of the digital age. If you were to believe everything you saw on Instagram, you could be forgiven for believing that everybody is living a far happier life than you might be, but we all embellish our own stories.
Since I was 13 years old I have been enamoured with the thought of travelling the world. For a long time, I was convinced that this adventure would lead me to a single moment when everything would click and make sense to me, but the more I think about this, the less I believe it. To quote one of the first songs I ever recall hearing;
"Life's a journey, not a destination."
I had lived under the impression that I would wander from one place to the next, living through these predetermined events that I had laid out for myself and then I would have my own story to tell. It now occurs to me that I was looking at this from the wrong angle. You shouldn't plan memories, because the imagination is a vast and wondrous thing; how can life contend with that? Instead, I believe we should simply attempt to gravitate towards situations and events that allow these memories a natural genesis. If it's worth remembering, you'll remember it.
I've been told on a number of occasions that I've a talent for storytelling. Perhaps this is why I hold memories in such high esteem. All we are is what we've done, and when our bodies begin to fail us, all we will have is our stories. I want to be sure that when I reach 70, I can take my grandchildren on great adventures with nothing more than my words.
That's how I'll know I've lived.