We invest a tremendous amount of time and energy designing charming experiences. We spend more freely on vacation than we would in our normally semi-frugal lives. We book the nicer airbnb or choose the more agreeable flight route, even if it’s a couple hundred dollars more. We research the things to do, email that friend who studied abroad there for suggestions, and make sure to get a new bathing suit. We travel far and uncomfortably, arrive jet-lagged, and often have had too much sodium along the way.
But then we’re there, and there are beaches to stroll down or glaciers to admire. We linger in a charming café and discover new flavors to our palate. We find quant cobblestone streets that match exactly what we had imagined. We order a second croissant, or a third glass of wine, or we pay what seems like way too much money for that jeep ride that takes us deep into the bush. And then often too soon, the experience is over. That incredible dinner at the restaurant we flew around the world to try is over. It seemed to last about as long as the meal of shells and cheese we made from a box the night before our early morning flight. We invest a lot in experiences and then quickly, the experiences are over.
Sometimes our memories come back to us without us doing anything at all. We take a sip of our to-go cup from our local coffee shop and suddenly we spend an instant at a café table on a rainy day in Paris on the rue Mouffetard, watching the chic souls holding a cigarette in one hand and an umbrella in the other. Or we’re tucking ourselves in for an early afternoon nap on a Sunday and it hits us, that incredible bowl soup we got from the kindly old man on the street in Penang, what was that even called? And then we move on, go about our day, often dismissing these little remembrances, or even feeling a slight pang of sadness of what once was. We were so free, back then, we might think.
Since we invest so much in our travel experiences, why don’t we invest much time into remembering them? The pandemic has cancelled most of our trips this year. It’s the perfect opportunity to collect some dividends from our past excursions. We shouldn’t spend too much time woefully thinking back to bygone eras when the entire world was an unmasked flight away. Instead, we can take ourselves back to that island we visited with a friend a decade ago, the one with the perfectly tempered water, and do so without the hassle of taking our cumbersome bodies. Our memories are waiting right there to console us, or at the very least, provide the cheapest form of entertainment.
To revisit them, we don’t need any special skills or complex systems. We need simply to get specific. What was the name of that cocktail bar we went to with that horrible off-key jazz singer? What was the room-service breakfast we ordered the first morning? What was the first thing we did after we landed? If we could take a long nap in any bed we’ve ever slept in, which would we choose? If we could have spent 2020 in quarantine in any place we’ve ever visited, where would we have gone?
So next time we can’t sleep or our regular old oatmeal seems all too bland, we should enjoy a little memory trip to a past version of ourselves. Allow the experiences we forfeited so much for to give back. Linger in that time and place when life felt as grand as it truly is, if only for a moment.