Memory Walking Exercise

(This is a recovered post from 2013~It has been edited to remove some broken image links. I did find the full map, though!~S)

The Memory Walking exercise is one of those that I equate with meditating. It’s also the hardest to REMEMBER to do when I really need the mental break! I should do these more often. They are VERY SIMPLE.

All you have to do is:

1. Imagine a place from your childhood. Choose either a happy place or an everyday place (not a traumatic place).

2. Remember being a kid and going to that place. Close your eyes and walk there in your imagination. Remember very specific things. Not where everything is, just some details about the place and the stuff in it that caught your attention when you went there. Don’t let the adult you analyze what things really are. For example, if there was a vent that looked like dragon’s nostrils, don’t call it “stylized air vent screen” in your mind, call it what you did as a kid!

3. Now that you have walked there in your mind, it’s time to make a map. I do not mean a diagram of your place, but a map of details that you remember as you do your mental walkthrough. For example, do you remember the door? The smell? The mouse that used to live under the sink? Draw the first thing you remember and say something about it. You’ll probably start to remember LOTS of things as you go along.

4. Draw a curvy dotted line, then draw the next thing you remember and write a little something about it.

5. Keep going until you feel like quitting. If you find you want to go on for days, here are some ways to limit yourself: Set timer (about an hour), fill the page, turn off lights and work until you run out of daylight…

Sam notes: Don’t worry if the thing you draw doesn’t look like what you remember. Or if you totally mess up. Just roll with it. If your memory item is a complicated object, just draw a suggestion of it and move on. I have the perfect example of an art mess in my Memory Map below. I wanted to toss it and start over since I was going to share it with the world. But the main reason I am doing this has nothing to do with sharing, so I had to practice what I preach!

Also, I found I wanted to say more about the things I remembered than I did here. This exercise may inspire future entries about some of the items I remember.

This is me walking you through my memory walk:

1. I chose my Grandmother’s house in Alabama. It used to be a big event to road trip from South Carolina to Alabama each summer. I was going to start off my mind map with with some landmarks from the trip (I remember passing Six Flags over Georgia was a big deal!), but discarded that in favor of zeroing in on the best part: Getting there!

2. I remembered driving down the lane to her carport. I was surprised to learn that there were actually other people’s houses on either side of the lane. I thought that was weird. It turned left into a carport and we had to climb stairs to get inside the house! People parked their cars DOWNSTAIRS! That totally fascinated me. I remembered some things about the house and some things we did and said there. What fun memories!

3. Well, the first thing I remembered was driving down the lane. So I decided to draw it:

Can you tell that’s a hedge-lined lane that makes a left at the end? ME NEITHER! This is where I say you have to just suck it up and move on…I scribbled in the backs of my parents’ heads and vague suggestions of the interior of the car. Really, that’s all I saw from the back seat anyway. So I wrote: The lane went behind other houses–we couldn’t see them!

4.The next thing I remembered was that long stairway at the back of the carport. I drew some dots and an arrow and I tried to draw the carport. Other than the placement of things, it didn’t look REMOTELY like I remember. I started getting nervous about you guys seeing what kind of crap actually goes in my journals! But I labeled it “carport” and wrote: Had to go up some stairs to get inside! and drew and arrow and dots to the next thing.

5. The next thing are the doorknobs. Grandmother had glass doorknobs in the house. I loved them and always thought they looked like diamonds.

Notice I didn’t mention that they were made of glass. I learned later that they were glass. I am sure I suspected they were glass even when I was a kid. But “glass doorknobs” is not what I remember. What I remember is Doorknobs looked like diamonds!

Arrow and dotted line to the next thing…

6.Whenever we stayed, I got the room with the hospital bed. I don’t know that either grandparent needed such a thing at the time. I don’t know why it was there or where it came from. It was just the best bed because I had a button to make it go up and down.

Then I remembered my grandmother telling me a story about when I was real little and stayed over at her house, not the one I am memory walking through. She said whenever she had a roast in the oven and I was crying, she’d tell me not to cry as they had caught the Ol’ Bad Wolf and were cooking him in the oven! I don’t remember her saying that to me, but I do remember her telling me the story. We were in the kitchen at the Alabama house. I enjoyed the story so much that roast beef became “Ol’ Bad Wolf” whenever I was over there.

I included both of those in my Memory Walk map.

I don’t remember the oven too specifically, except I think it was dark red in color. I just drew an oven as I THINK it was because I looked at the oven when she told the story. Funny what you remember!

7. About this point, I was enjoying the memory walk so much that I was in a hurry to get down everything I could think of. I was in that sweet spot of being IN the memory and the rest of the world just faded to the background.

So no more stopping for pictures! No big deal, as I think you get the point of how to do it anyway, right?

Here is the whole, two-page spread scanned in. Yes, I know it is not pretty. But this is not the kind of art you look-at… it’s the kind of art you just DO.

The Map

It was wonderful to call up those memories. My Grandmother and Papa would have laughed at the things that stuck in my mind from their house! I still remember sneaking into the living room and squishing the fake grapes. I hope you remember something surprising, too!

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