My grandfather and I eating ice cream. My brother and I watching The Office. My mom and dad waving on our porch. My mom and I shopping at Dollar Tree. These are the videos, along with many more, that I have taken over the past few days, hoping to compile them into a larger video to commemorate my spring break.
Very few of these videos are spectacular. They showcase the mundane events of ordinary life: eating dinner, going grocery shopping, and watching TV before bed. But because I am rarely with my family, each moment that I capture is special. I know I will miss this routine of life once I return to Emory University, so I hope to save the precious moments that I experience on camera in order to relive them later on. In the same way, I revisit Snapchat memories, and WhatsApp films that my best friend abroad and I exchanged so I can remember what it was like to be in high school.
I like taking videos because they give me an honest portrayal of what life is like in the moment. Last year, I tried (for the first six months) to take a few-second recording every day of something that brought me joy. I recorded concerts and going out to eat with friends, but I also filmed family dinners and study sessions. My monthly films give me an accurate view of what my life was like back in my freshman year of college by capturing the sights and sounds of the moment, such as the colors of the nature around me or my friends' laughter. Best of all, they describe exactly what I experienced in the moment I was recording, unlike my journal entries from the time, which describe my experiences from a distance using reflection.
To me, video recordings are important beyond my immediate past. My family has always used video - often recorded on an old, silver camera with less memory space than your average smartphone - to record events such as talent shows or family trips, in order to preserve memories of my childhood. In fact, we're currently sifting through memories beyond my own lifetime by sorting my grandfather's collection of videos, including his wedding with my grandmother. When I rewatch these videos, I get a chance to relive events that I myself had forgotten, or to experience family memories that would otherwise have been lost. I've also learned that video recording can preserve more than memories through recording important pieces of history or heritage. In eleventh grade, I video-interviewed seven elderly people from my church and neighborhood about their families' experiences in the Second World War in Europe. My videos describe their families' experiences with the Dutch famine, resistance or other stories which now can be watched and remembered even seventy-five years after the war ended.
Best of all, I think that videos help us remember the good moments of our lives. We're often tempted to look back on seasons of our lives and only view the negatives that we experienced, instead of remembering the positives. For example, when I think back to my own life and the May of my freshman year, I remember that I was bored because I spent most of my time at home before my summer job began. When I rewatch video clips I made in May, on the other hand, I remember adventures to the bookstore, cooking lasagne with my mom and celebrating my home country winning Eurovision Song Contest. Videos help eliminate the bias that we have in self-reflection to be overly critical (or the opposite!) by allowing us to re experience the joy that we had when recording the moment. They jog our memories to help us remember that our experiences weren't all that bad.
Taking videos have given me an accurate recollection of my experiences, along with helping me remember my favorite parts. Best of all, it only takes a few seconds. What's stopping you from recording your life? Maybe you could record one second a day, or take Snapchat films to post to your story, or send videos to friends or family members to let them know what's going in your life. You can't go wrong either way - and if you save those moments, you'll get to re-experience them and treasure them for a lifetime.