Keep making memories

“Keep making memories” is a mantra that is hard-wired into my brain from a childhood influenced by my indefatigable Mum. Whenever I’m feeling a lack of enthusiasm or motivation, it’s like an alarm that goes off inside my head. It’s something I have always tried to follow, but a recent event has given it even more power and influence in my life.

Exploring near one of my favourite places in the world

Two weeks ago I was hit by a van. I was crossing at a zebra crossing and the driver, who normally should have stopped, didn’t see me and kept driving through. The left side of my body took the impact and I was flown up onto the windshield, hitting my head, before being catapulted forward onto the road. Later, I would find out that I would escape with some serious, but repairable injuries. But, in those brief moments immediately after the impact I couldn’t help but think that, even if it all ended then, I had some wonderful, amazing memories: of times with family; of times with friends; of time spent by myself. It comforted me through the uncertainty and sustained me through the pain that followed.

For me to “keep making memories”, it has always been about having new and interesting experiences. For many years I couldn’t rationalise it, but felt it very deeply. I spent inordinate amounts of time researching and seeking out new places to explore, different restaurants to try or even recipes to cook for my friends. They weren’t necessarily flashy or expensive things. It could be as simple as finding my favourite painting in a free art gallery or savouring the flavour of an exquisite coffee at a hidden gem of a cafe. I sought them out, though, because they were interesting or fun and inevitably led to great memories.

Preparing for family birthday celebrations

Then I found a more scientific answer. Since university I have been fascinated by psychology and, a couple of years ago, I read a research paper that investigated why some periods of time seemed to fly past while others, like childhood summers, felt like they extended forever. Their key hypothesis was that your experience of time is linked to having new experiences or learning new things. If you have a period where a lot is new, then time feels like it passes more slowly. Whether or not this is scientifically true, to me, it doesn’t really matter. It matches what I feel and how I want to live my life — hopefully long and full of rich experiences, shared with people I love.

Pushing physical limits cycling through Italy

Why am I telling you this? Why am I writing it all down? In part, because it helps me. I am so incredibly lucky. I have always known it, but this accident has further heightened my awareness and appreciation. The accident could have been so much worse and my family and friends have been wonderfully supportive helping me get back on my feet. But it still hurts — my whole body aches and some of the smallest things that I used to take completely for granted are hard and tiring. Writing it down helps because if just one other person reads this and does something positive they wouldn’t have done before, then in some crazy way this stupid accident will have meaning. All the associated memories will be more positive for me.

I left a successful corporate job last year to pursue a crazy dream. I have always loved new technologies, because they are about new ways of doing things and for their potential to bring about positive change. And, linked to my passion for seeking out and sharing new experiences, the tangible element of that dream is Pearlshare ( n.b., it’s still early days…). My accident has only furthered my resolve to try to make it a success. But, whether or not we are successful, for the broader purposes of writing this is not important. What is important is to keep making memories — seek out new experiences, learn something new and share them with your friends. Get more out of life, starting now!

James O’Day, November 2014

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