Monday, November 11, 2013

Misty Water-Colored Memories

by Carol A.

Ever feel like this?

Set your phone stopwatch to one minute. Quick - how many animals can you name in 60 seconds? That's a question that Margaret Guroff asks in AARP magazine (October/November issue - answers below. And yes, I am a proud reader of AARP.) As I delivered a hearing aid to an elderly patient last week, her brilliant daughter photographed every step of my instructions with her iPhone, so she could make a visual aid for her mother. Yet another creative use of technology. I was so impressed! So - how did you do?

I hesitate to write a post on memory because this blog is not only for people my age. But I'm thinking that this is not really about age - it's about recall. Our youngest FOL sisters have young children - and I swear - my memory started fading right about at that stage. I think that once you have the monumental responsibility of sustaining and nurturing a human life; or for those of you who made the choice to take your own life and career to the next level without children in the mix, the amount of information we need to hold on to as we age, as well as the number of options you have to consider in every day, grow in so many different directions that it's really hard to hold on!

Add to that the sheer amount of information available to us these days. Teaching in America has changed since I was in school. We used to place the emphasis on facts - memorizing them mostly. The world of knowledge has so outgrown us that we had to abandon that sort of teaching. Children are now taught how to find facts, and how to be evaluative and flexible in their thinking. That's because it's no longer possible to memorize everything as the fund of knowledge grows daily. And with the pace of society, our children will experience more change than stability in their lives.

Sometimes it's all a blur...

We have written a lot here about trying to capture the moments we love with photography - about sustaining and creating memories for ourselves and our families. But have you considered that photography may also help us develop and sustain memory function? First of all, I think we are all benefitting from continued learning. It's that "use it or lose it" thing. No one can say we will ever run out of things to learn about photography. And you could spend a lifetime on Photoshop skills alone! How fortunate! We are testing our brain cells every day, and I believe that is healthy.

Then there's the idea that we are keeping up with at least part of the tech revolution. I know your 10 year old can bail you out of a computer issue - but we're not shirking! We are embracing a technology that is constantly changing!  We are at least partially joining the generation who forms friendships on-line, who studies through the use of you-tube tutorials, and who apply for jobs through a faceless interface. I'm old-fashioned enough that I'm not sure all of that is good for young people, but I think it is good for older people.

And photography helps us to participate in the multi-tasking approach that is deeply ingrained in younger generations. I can play with Lightroom on my laptop while watching TV! (I can't listen to music and talk to friends and do homework at the same time though. And "picture in picture" TV and rolling captions drive me crazy!) But I am truly multi-tasking as I stand out there in my field thinking about composition and framing, shutter speed and aperture, ISO and focal point. And this is after looking up the time of the sunset, the direction of the light, and gathering my spare battery (which I remembered to charge last night), spare memory cards (oh the irony!) and appropriate gear. I'm not even mentioning the digital darkroom skills I will use later on, interspersed with computer research to obtain a certain look in the finished project, computer storage choices and the inevitable trouble shooting.

So I think we have chosen to learn a skill that promotes peace and beauty in the world while adding to our own health and wellness. Let's pat ourselves on the back for having the courage (or gall) to stay in the game!

Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
of the way we were.
                                       The Way We Were lyrics
                                       by Marilyn and Alan Bergman

answer: the average person in their 30s can name 21.5 animals
The overage person in their 70s can name 17.6


terriporter said...

Memory . . . it's getting so that I can't remember all the things I used to remember! I didn't take the test because I can't handle the discouragement this early in the morning! So frustrating sometimes how memory dims as we get older. I do the crossword puzzle and Sudoku in the paper every morning because they say that helps but I'm not so sure if it's helping me! And you're right, there is so much more for us to remember these days! But photography has definitely been good for me in this regard because there is always something new to learn and to master. It keeps me "in the game" as you said. Love your photos, especially that last one! And you chose the lyrics of one of my favorite songs too.

Barb Brookbank said...

Thank you for the very uplifting words!

Stephanie Elms said...

Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this post. I'm only 45 so no major memory issues yet (other than those that go with having kids!) but I do find that I am appreciating hearing the thoughts from my slightly older peers even more now than I used to (and getting a kick at how my view on what is "old" changes and adjusts the older I get!) I'm also someone who is getting into photography "later" in life (I've always been one to have a camera with me, but only now am I getting into the craft of it all) and enjoying it.

It will be interesting to watch over the years to see if the young-ish voices so prevalent today on blogs will age along with their owners.

Carol said...

OOO Stephanie - that makes me laugh! Just so you know - my father is now 92, and he says he considers the guy down the street to be an "old guy" - that man is 98 - so I do think "old" moves along with us! Don't remind me that it was my generation that said "don't trust anyone over 30!!

Dotti said...

This is a very thought-provoking post! While there's no doubt that our minds may become less supple as we age, I think a lot has to do with sensory overload. We're constantly bombarded with facts, things, dates. There's always noise around and about {unless we make a conscious effort to turn it off}, and the 24-hour new cycle is a big culprit, too. The world about us is moving at a faster and faster pace ... and our pace is slowing down. But instead of stressing, I like the idea of being more practical about it. Terri's crosswords and Sudoku are one way. Reading voraciously is another. And, yes, I think photography is very worthy of it's place in that mix. We'll never learn it all ... but that doesn't make the journey any less fun. And if it helps our memory, hey, that's icing on the cake!

kelly said...

carol i think you are totally right much to keep up with mentally that it's overwhelming at times. and like dotti said, the way we are bombarded with information doesn't help. it's one of the things i love most about photograhy...the ability to turn off the outside world - focus and concentrate on something other than the chatter. and also the constant learning curve which also keeps us sharp. very insightful post!

susan said...

Lovely images Carol…can especially relate to the 1st one…well, these days I can. Thanks for putting a little smile in my heart with your lovely images and post. xoxo

Kim Stevens said...

Most awesome post Carol!!! When I was a teenager I could listen to music and study, needed it really... Now, I don't mind white noise but I sure prefer to not have interference with outer space. I love your last sentence- "we have chosen to learn a skill that promotes peace and beauty in the world while adding to our own health and wellness." Oh, and I took the 22.

heyjudephotography said...

Very insightful post Carol. I agree that in addition to age, it's just all the "noise" of the world that taxes our memory. I don't know where I'd be with out my post it notes, that's for sure! ( I named 28 animals in a minute.)

Focusing on Life said...

And I , who cant remember a damn thing, got 23 - so see - photography is keeping us above average!!

Focusing on Life said...

hahahaha! Except I didn't remember to change my log in for the above comment from FOL to me! That's what I get for bragging!

AFishGirl said...

I'm too scared to do the test either but great post and now I have ear worm for that song.... lol.

Sarah Huizenga said...

It is a constant battle to learn, but yet a life enriching one as well. I want to still be somewhat in the game in my 70's and 80's.

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