Memory and meaning: A side effect of public experiments

One of the unforeseen side effects of publishing experiments here is that now I only want to experiment if I can somehow turn it into a series of posts.

Most experiments aren’t great for writing about. Different daytime schedules, diet restrictions, Internet usage limitations – these types of things make for great personal experiments. I can learn a lot by trying these types of things all the time. They don’t make for great writing, though.

I’m writing this now to remind myself to try to remind myself to keep experimenting even if they won’t ever make it onto the blog.

This pattern, I think, has some further reaching consequences that I’m only now noticing. I mean, one of the benefits of writing, especially somewhat regularly on schedule, is that it forces me to live in such a way that I want to write about it. It doesn’t have to be all about me, all ego-centric (although I’ll admit that’s pretty often how it ends up). Writing on schedule forces me to stay interested in what happens around me and what I do. It helps me pay attention, because I know I’ll need something to write about soon.

The downside to this is that a lot of things in life that are worthwhile aren’t worth writing about. This is shocking, I know, but true.

It happens to photographers too. You take so many photos that you start to think that if something can’t be photographed, it isn’t important or meaningful.

It’s how our minds tend to work. “Will this matter at the end of your life?” How often have we heard that kind of rhetorical advice? The unstated answer being that if we can’t remember it – if we won’t remember it – it’s probably not that meaningful.

That’s simply not accurate. Our minds can’t capture everything that’s meaningful, even though our minds want to tell us they can. I still think it’s important to remember what we can, but I’d bet that the majority of the important things in life will be forgotten, never photographed, never published.