Remember to Remember

I don't have a pensieve. Bummer.

I don’t have a pensieve. Bummer.

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.

VHS tapes.

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.

She obliged.

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.

Amazing.

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.

Always.

Tick, tick, tick.

You and me? Right now?

We happen once in a lifetime.

Make it count.

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12 thoughts on “Remember to Remember

  1. Wow, could those shorts be any shorter? Great trip down memory lane (aside from the touchdown… go Bills) and great reminder to be present in the moment.
    BB

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  2. My mom had a far less auspicious “taping over” moment when she first learned to program a VCR. She had the great idea to tape a few minutes of the weather channel because it showed the time, so she would therefore be able to confirm that she had done it correctly. Which she did, and then when the time was up on the segment of weather channel she had program the tape cut back into…. our wedding video.

    Maybe it was a sign :)

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  3. “Because when the fire’s really cookin, why put it out” HAHAhahaha… love it.

    Could your memory of your 20s have been impaired by your moderate pot use? :D

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    • Matt says:

      If smoking copious amounts of marijuana affects memory, then it stands to reason I’ve forgotten a lot of things.

      I don’t have any A-B testing data. My only sample is the one with lots of pot smokage.

      *shrug*

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  4. Aren’t old pictures and videos the best? One of the perks of having aging divorced parents is that we’ve had to sort through and try to get rid of everything from our childhood. It’s been fun to see all of our old memories… all of the little school projects and drawings and all that stuff. It’s amazing connecting with the five year old me, getting a glimpse into my personality and thoughts. My parents actually had all of our videos transferred to DVD’s and gave each of us copies of the EIGHT DVD’s they filled up. You should do this for your mom! :)

    xo

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  5. mewhoami says:

    Old home videos are always fun to watch. I agree with you that a lot of times what we see on those videos and even in various pictures, we don’t remember. When I have a memory I always ask myself if it’s a real memory or just a memory from a picture I saw once.

    Those commercials bring back so many memories! I had to laugh at the Ford Taurus one. A few years ago (2001’ish) I bought a really nice used Ford Taurus. It lasted me all of 3 weeks, before I unwisely decided to race it against a beefed up sports car. I made it up the hill and the engine blew. I learned my lesson – a Ford Taurus is not meant to be a race car.

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    • Matt says:

      That’s a wonderful story about blowing your Taurus engine while trying to race.

      It made me like you 30-percent more. At least.

      Appreciate you stopping in. Thank you. :)

      Like

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