Writing Moments vs. Remembering Them

Personal milestone reached!  After two years, three states, four cities, five jobs, and six apartments, I’ve maintained one thing; a piece of writing that started as a free write while I was crashing at a friend’s place in South Philly (shout out Natalia!).

writing moments

What I found reading through the 70+ pages from the last two years is that what I wrote and what I remember are very different. It makes sense in some ways because writing is my release. I wrote about a lot of stressful times, events, and challenges that felt heavy at the moment. What I hold onto and remember, looking back at each of those moments, is the complete opposite of the challenge and stress reflected in my writing. It’s been the best reminder (and proof) to not stress over the little things.

The Riddle of Experience vs. Memory

The distinction between the happiness of the experiencing self and the satisfaction of the remembering self has been recognized in recent years, and there are now efforts to measure the two separately. The Gallup Organization has a world poll where more than half a million people have been asked questions about what they think of their life and about their experiences, and there have been other efforts along those lines. So in recent years, we have begun to learn about the happiness of the two selves. And the main lesson I think that we have learned is they are really different. You can know how satisfied somebody is with their life, and that really doesn’t teach you much about how happily they’re living their life, and vice versa.


Philadelphia Moments

Remembering them: When I remember my time in Philadelphia, I remember the friends I made, food I ate, and events I attended. I forgot about the one time I forgot to pay rent and stressed that my landlord would evict me (disproportionate response, I know).

Writing moments: I worried about how I would find a job, a place to live, and get set on the path that would be the rest of my life.


New York City Moments

Remembering them:  I remember the excitement every time I caught a glimpse of the illuminated Empire State building, the pleasure of seeing amazing musical acts at the Union Square subway stop, and the intangible energy that pulsated through me every moment I was there. I forgot about all the job interviews I went on and feelings of disappointment when I wasn’t hired.

Writing moments: I worried about how I would find a job, a place to live, and get set on the path that would be the rest of my life.


San Francisco Moments

Remembering them: I’m in a new place and starting a new chapter, so time will tell what my memories will be, but if history has taught me anything, and if writing has shown me everything, I will keep my fond memories close to my heart and rid my frustrations through my hands and into my writing.

Writing moments: I finally stopped worrying about a job but I definitely worried about finding a place to live, and I am still trying to find that path that is the rest of my life.


The Present Moment:

As much as this is a reflection, this free write document serves as a reminder to not sweat the small stuff.  I do have memories that match what I wrote but they were much less common. Experiences and feelings are what I took away and hold close, not the minutiae of logistics and formalities. There are two selves at play here, my writing self vs. my remembering self. I appreciate and see the value in both.

I thought it would be cool to look at my writing quantitatively. What were the words that were used and how would those word counts look in a graph?

Life, patience, work, love, and hard rounded out the top five. I don’t think there is any coincidence to the combination or frequency. That’s what life is about.

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4 thoughts on “Writing Moments vs. Remembering Them

  1. I love it Alissa! That is why I hate texting throughout the day. Ppl are much more positive when they are reflective (myself included). I am attempting to convey that fact to every guy I date, constant communication does not equal a healthy and happy relationship, and it does not seem to be working out. Love and miss ya 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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