Memories: The Currency of Our Lives

Christopher Michel and a camel friendMemories are the currency of our lives.

Those special moments where the brain saw fit to record something forever are the building blocks that make up our remembered past.

For many of us, the brain's parsimonious nature seems to record time with less fidelity as we age. What happened in 2004? 2006? Do we remember a hundred things? A thousand? Ten?

We can count on our brains to record those things that are critical to our survival - the exciting, the new, the dangerous, the touching, etc. As children, almost everything falls into one of those categories - those endless summers where a single day's adventure lasts forever.

But, as we age, experiences often migrate from the new to the familiar and, eventually, end up as routine. And the routine has a slim chance of being remembered, except in the aggregate. Thus, when we look back on those days, we often can't remember much...time seems to have flown by.

Chris Michel in BhutanAll is not lost! We have the opportunity to bring back that "child's mind" of discovery, growth, novelty and lush memories. Unlocking this secret is incredibly straightforward: change things up. Try something new every day. Vary your routine. Or, even better, go on an adventure!

A decade ago, I ran into a friend who had just returned from biking through Vietnam. He went on and on about all the things he saw and did every day. I couldn't believe his stories. It was as if each day was as eventful as a month back home. That's when I had the epiphany: I could slow down my life by traveling more. And I'm here to tell you that it works.

In 2008, I left my full-time job in technology to become a photographer. And I've been on the road ever since...traveling about half the year, taking pictures and creating memories.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T.S. Eliot

I've also had the great fortune of getting to know a company called Backroads. They're an active-travel company (biking, hiking, multisport) that runs incredible trips all over the world. They've been my "magic carpet" along this adventure. From the rural streets of Hoi-An to the mountains of Peru, I've been on 14 of their trips. I can't thank them enough for a decade of incredible memories. Here are just a few:


10 Responses

  1. Richard Wong

    I totally agree, Chris. Epic work.

    • Christopher P Michel

      Thank you, Richard!

  2. Patty Fitzpatrick

    We loved your article, you really make people think about their future. I was completely taken aback by your beautiful writing and corresponding pictures. Your epiphany moment was such a great idea. I hope someday Ron & I should be so lucky.
    Thank you for teaching us something through you writing.

    Ron & Patty Fitzpatrick

    • Christopher P Michel

      Thanks Ron & Patty! So so appreciated!

  3. Lida

    You articulated it well Chris….. you certainly inspire many to adventure on and create memories that will last a life time. Thank you for sharing your photos and thoughts with us… it is with pleasure that I can say our paths have crossed in life

    • Christopher P Michel

      Lida, I loved traveling with you! Thanks so much!

  4. Elisa Davis

    Hello Chris,
    Your article is the mission statement of my life. What a beautiful piece.

    I follow you on Twitter (@emichelledavis) and appreciate your photographs tremendously, including the ones from SF, as I live in Sausalito. Your images are impetus’ to travel ideas and as I write this, am thinking of my next Backroads adventure. Just finished the Canadian Rockies bike tour which was amazing, to put it mildly.

    Thank you for your work – it’s breathtaking and inspiring.

    Elisa Davis

    • Christopher P Michel

      Elisa, thank you so much! I really appreciate your kind words. Well done on the rockies – impressive!
      Warm regards,

  5. Rosemary Donnelly

    Chris….I agree totally with the theme of your article, which is so beautifully written. I started travelling as soon as I finished grad school, and haven’t looked back. It was exactly what I wanted to do from age 10, when my aunt came back from a trip to Europe, with all her photos. It was a revelation….it set my life on a different road. It doesn’t mean I don’t also love my work, my family, and friends. But I started my travels so many years ago by hitchhiking all over Europe and a bit of north Africa too, then graduated to public transport in going to India from Greece, and now ……well, now I seem to take airplanes everywhere. But I know that if airplanes are not available, I will travel in whatever is available. I love to see your travels, so eloquently reflected in your photos.


      Thank you! You life is an inspiration to me and so many others! You are a true explorer!
      Love, C

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