I was just paging through an old photo album my mom gave me during my Thanksgiving visit.
I was little in the photos. Newborn and toddler pictures. Photos of my mom, dad and I all together, before they split when I was four years old. Photos I’ve never seen before.
Images from the early 1980s. My parents, aunts and uncles all younger than I am now.
I don’t remember any of the moments captured in the images, even seeing the irrefutable proof I was there.
I don’t think that’s particularly abnormal—not remembering much from your first few years of life. But it got my wheels turning.
Friday morning, I sat with my five-year-old son, my 20-year-old sister and my mother. Mom’s obsessed with old family videos and insists on watching them whenever we’re all together.
She popped one in.
It was Easter Sunday, just after my 20th birthday. I was home from college. My little sister was five, like her little nephew today.
I watched myself supervising her Easter egg hunt, remembering none of it.
And that’s when it dawned on me that I don’t remember the vast majority of my life.
I can’t miss the memories I don’t have. But conceptually, I found that realization a little sad.
MCI and Cheap Long-Distance Rates
At some point on that Easter morning 14 years ago, my mom hit the “Stop” button on the camcorder. An inconsequential move at the time.
But an awesome one in 2013.
Because something rad happened. After a tracking adjustment (remember VCR tracking?!?! Mom’s totally old-fashioned) I realized my mother had taped over an old football game we’d recorded.
It was the 1989 NFL playoffs. The Cleveland Browns versus the Buffalo Bills.
“Mom, can we please keep this on for a little bit? This is kind of amazing.” I said.
Just a couple minutes in, my favorite childhood quarterback—Bernie Kosar—hit my favorite childhood wide receiver—Webster Slaughter—with a perfect pass down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown catch and run.
I instinctively raised my hand in the air, celebrating the success of an event I’d watched 25 years ago, but don’t remember.
It’s not a big deal watching old ball games. Because of ESPN Classic, most sports fans have seen old game footage before.
But you know what IS a big deal?
Watching 25-year-old television commercials. Because they DON’T show those on ESPN Classic.
First, it was an old Ford commercial, touting the merits of the 1990 model year Ford Taurus.
Have you driven a Ford, lately?
We all laughed.
Then it was a commercial for Delta Airlines. When’s the last time you saw a commercial for an airline? Southwest is the only one advertising on TV these days, right?
Fly the friendly skies.
Then it was an old Coors Light commercial. Everyone looked awesome because it was 1989.
Coors Light! It’s the right beer now!
And finally, there was a great MCI commercial bragging about how much cheaper their long-distance phone call rates were than AT&T’s.
The phones were big and old.
We were still 18 years away from the iPhone.
And the entire thing made me smile. I’ve told at least three people about it.
And it struck me as a reminder.
A reminder to soak in the moments.
To remember to remember.
To take a lot of photos. A lot of video. A lot of mental snapshots.
Maybe write it down.
So you can taste it again. Feel it again. Live it again.
The world’s always spinning.
The clocks, always ticking.
Tick, tick, tick.
You and me? Right now?
We happen once in a lifetime.
Make it count.