Capture tomorrows’ memories today

Crescent Beach, SC July 6, 1948

Freedom – not just on July 4th but all summer long – that’s how I remember summers when I was a child growing up in Virginia.

Life seemed so simple then. When the last day of school finally arrived, it felt as if a whole lifetime was waiting at the door – months stretching ahead without schedules, homework or responsibilities.   Early-to-bed and early-to-rise were put aside for the absolute luxury of play.

And play was simple too. The only rules were made up on the spot by a small group of neighborhood kids – some older – others younger – all of us outside for most of the day.  When my father whistled for me to come inside, I was ready.  “Be home before dark,” was the rule for many kids.

We chased and caught fireflies, played King-on-the-Mountain, Red Rover Come Over, Hide and Seek. I loved to swing – high into the sky before gravity pulled us back down, legs pumping and bodies bent to the back-and-forth pattern of motion.  We set up lemon-aide stands, skated circles around driveways, and cooled off with the garden hose.

My husband remembers his Shandon neighborhood summers where he played basketball at Sims Park, rode his Flexi bike from his Heyward Street home to Five Points to watch a movie matinee in the cool darkness for only 25 cents for admission and popcorn.  Playing with friends of all ages was a perfect training ground for these future community leaders.

Although it would be years before he and I met at USC, we both enjoyed time on South Carolina beaches with friends and family.  Lloyd remembers playing canasta, shelling butterbeans and enjoying time with cousins at a vacation house south of Myrtle Beach.

I think back to the long drive from Danville, Va. to Crescent Beach where we would spend a week or two with friends or relatives.  Everyone built sand castles, swam in the ocean and collected shells.  That’s where I learned to swim in the shallow tidal pools left on the beach from the receding waves.

“If I could save time in a bottle,” Jim Croce’s 1973 song, reminds me of a time that has passed – a simpler time with more freedom than the fast pace that our children and grandchildren are living today.

Perhaps it’s just the halcyon glow of memory – or maybe it’s my wish for today’s children to have more freedom, to make up their own games that don’t require electronics and invent contests with no other goal than to have fun, grow and learn how to live in the world they will inherit.

Journal writing’s solution to Jim Croce’s wish to save time in his bottle is the Captured Moment.

“The Captured Moment is a frozen morsel of time.  Exactly as a camera shutter captures a split second… a Captured Moment preserves an instant of feeling and sensation,”  according to Kay Adams, personal journal writing pioneer.

Sensory descriptions – “sounds, sights, smells, and feelings of a moment in time and space” are the triggers to writing thoughtful and memorable vignettes. Add dialogue to bring in the voices that have been lost over time.

Write your Captured Moment as a short narrative, or a poem, or any form that best suits your subject – from a few simple lines to several paragraphs or even a book.  Don’t stop with your first version but let your memory live and breathe as you revise and add details.

Here’s a simple example I wrote decades ago, but still want to tinker with today.  Each time I read it again, I tweak it another time and once again feel that hot sun, cool water and my first sensation of floating.

Crescent Beach at Four

My skin tingles as
the ocean rolls.
Suspended face up,
salt water wraps
me in a
cool blanket
pulled up around
my ears.

Make a book using vacation pictures – old or new – and write Captured Moment sketches to describe your photos.  Online bookmaking has never been easier and more convenient.  Decades from now, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will know you better through your personal reflections of memories that continue far beyond one lifetime.

My 4-week online class, Dream Work Express, August 2 – 29, 2018, is sponsored by the Center for Journal Therapy & The Writing Institute.
New 6-week writing groups, 9-6-18 through 10-11-18 – Check Workshops links here.
As a Licensed Independent Social Worker-CP and a Certified Journal Therapist, I am an approved provider of continuing education credits by the Board of the SC Social Work Examiners. 


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