I want to share something with you. It is this thing I do in my mind, a kind of game. I play it quite regularly when I need to quickly distract myself from something unpleasant – like a dental procedure. During those moments when I really must focus on something else, I am able to pull out a nice collection of memories. I keep them sharp and readily available. Like playing cards they are very familiar, prioritized and a little worn. I don’t know, maybe everyone does this?
This is how it works for me. The process usually starts with a defining moment. I will be thoroughly enjoying myself when someone asks: “Does it get any better than this?” That triggers the start of my qualifying period.
For example, on a beautiful day last summer we had a delightful picnic with old friends. We were out on the patio at the Grange Winery. A century old barn was behind us and a creek ran to the right. Out on the table we had a spread of food – (roast beef sandwiches as I recall). That day the wine paired perfectly. We were all laughing at something, when someone stated: “Isn’t this all wonderful”.
It was a defining moment. … I detached myself from the conversation and started the mental evaluation process.
Weather perfect … check
Great company…. check
Food, drink, lots of laughter, a treasured moment. Is it worthy enough to be included in my collection? …”Oh Yes”
At that point I try to build details into my memory. It is like scrap booking. I flick a switch and start-up my brain’s recorder to catch snippets of the conversation. What were we laughing at? I consciously cut and paste in the audio sound track. I note the angle of the sun and the colours around me. How do I feel? Like a barometer I take a measure of my happiness. Finally….. “ Click“ The mental memory is taken and filed away. The design phase is complete.
I have at my disposal about eight lovely memories which have been previously sorted and prioritized. Some of my tried and true favourites include:
- Swimming in the late afternoon surrounded by sparkling diamonds on the water
- Flat on my back on the trampoline, giggling uncontrollably with my best friend (full disclosure – we were more than a little drunk)
- A fall hike with Molly when she was being particularly frisky
What is my most treasured memory, you ask? The top card in this deck was my first defining moment back in 1985. That was the year that Dad died and I felt Mom needed a goal; something to focus on. I planned a once-in-a-life-time vacation. It was a hiking holiday in the Bernese Oberland area of Switzerland. We hiked high up in the mountain meadows surrounded by cerulean skies, jaw dropping vistas and grazing goats. Euphoric is an understatement. We developed ravenous appetites. Bring on the Swiss cheeses, chocolate, crusty breads and sweet wines. It was all ambrosia to these weary hikers.
My defining moment from this holiday involved another picnic lunch beside another babbling brook. We had walked all morning. Our trail followed a fast-moving stream. Out of nowhere we came across a wooden bench. It was just too inviting. We collapsed and brought out our packed lunches. Mom’s hiking boots were off in a second and she wiggled her toes. I dropped my knapsack and relaxed my shoulders. I recall angling my face towards the sun’s rays. Hummmmmm Its warmth spread across my skin like a rich lotion for my soul. My eyes were closed when I heard Mom say. “Does it get any better than this?”