“If your house caught on fire, what would you take with you on the way out the door?”
We’ve all heard that question, and we all have similar answers:
- Family members and pets
- Photo albums (pictures of family members and pets)
- Special mementos (things made by family members (not pets) that have special meaning)
I don’t know anyone who says, “I’d grab the couch,” or “I paid a lot for that ceiling fan – it’s coming with me.”
It we can replace it, we leave it behind. What we paid for it doesn’t matter. The value doesn’t come from the cost; it comes from the relationship it represents.
We rescue the things that are irreplaceable – the things that connect us to others.
My wife has crafted photo albums that cover our entire marriage. They include hundreds of pictures of the things we’ve done together, of our kids and grandkids, of our friends. They show special events and significant moments that have brought us to today. With the comments she’s added, they represent a journal of our lives.
Whenever someone wants to know about some event from the past – when something happened, who was involved, what we were doing – she grabs the appropriate album. Within seconds, we have the answer we’re looking for.
But it doesn’t stop there. We find ourselves browsing through a few other pages as old memories capture our attention.
“Hey, look at that! Remember when you had those sideburns? And that curly perm is crazy! I don’t remember your hair being that color . . .”
We’re reminded of memories we had forgotten.
That’s a good thing.
It’s not healthy to live in the past, yearning for the “good old days.” But the richness of life comes when our past provides meaning for our present.
That’s why we study history; remembering where we’ve been gives context for where we are.
On our deathbed, we won’t be focusing on the colors we picked for our living room. We’ll think about the conversations we had there.
We won’t think about how our yard was landscaped; we’ll think about the people we played games with there.
The vacation scenery won’t matter as much as who came with us on the trip.
We’ll remember the people we made those memories with.
Every day, we make memories – whether we notice them or not. How do we make sure we don’t forget our most important memories?
- By being fully present in the present. The next time your family gathers, give each person the give of undistracted attention. Look them in the eye, and don’t rush to get to the next activity.
- By intentionally exploring the past. Grab a photo album and look through it with someone close to you. Relive events, tell stories, and refresh your memories.
It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and overlook the richness of our lives.
Let’s make memories that we won’t forget.