For the final prompt of this month’s challenge, I first tried to find souvenirs around the house that Philippe and I might have collected while traveling. I quickly realized that we only get the occasional book, which I sketched yesterday, but never really bring home any sort of trinket or bobble that might make a good sketch. A few months ago, we were walking along the beach in California and admiring the shells. Though we saw many we liked, we didn’t bring any of them home with us. This hasn’t always been the case. When I was young I would load up on souvenirs every single trip I took. Most of them have ended up in a box somewhere, enjoyed only for a brief time upon my return. Many others were discarded over the years, when looking at them again failed to spark the memory they were meant to evoke in the first place. For me, the best souvenir of a trip isn’t tangible at all. It comes in the form of the stories we tell and retell after the journey. These are my favorite souvenirs that make the experience come alive for me again and again.
If it weren’t for these stories, I probably wouldn’t remember many of the trips from my childhood. Any trinkets acquired on those are now long gone. But, my mother loves to tell stories about the past, probably where I get this habit, and so I’m often reminded of those past adventures. It’s not a documentary account of every single moment, but just the best bits. Usually the funny ones as those seem to endure the most over time. This glorious way of editing makes every previous trip seem perfectly magical. I’m sure this was not the case. There had to be moments where tensions flared or participants were thinking they would rather just be back at home once more. I’m quite sure there were moments when my insatiable quest to turn every trip into an educational field trip drove my mother completely nuts. But, today, we just have the best memories to relive and enjoy. The bits that defied all of the everyday grievances and became wonderful pieces of family lore.
Today, I have my little doodlewashes and posts here to help me chronicle my life and feelings in the moment. Just like those stories of my childhood, it’s not always about the exact thing that happened in the moment, but simply a capture of ideas, moments and thoughts. Those bits that rise to the surface and demand to be shared. I think I’ve learned over the years, that capturing memories isn’t an exact science. You can write down every little thing that actually happened on a trip, and I’ve done this in the past, but oftentimes it fails to capture the real point of it all. In the end, the real story isn’t about what we do, but instead, what we feel. Life told at its best is a tale of the heart that ultimately stays with us far longer than any of those tangible pieces we might collect along the way could ever hope to accomplish. For me, at least, it’s the oral history of life that I find the most compelling. If a story gets retold, there’s something wonderful there and worthy of a second listen. These timeless memories are the ones that I want to collect, while I admire all of the others like souvenirs in the sand.
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham Watercolors: Yellow Ochre, Opus (Vivid Pink), Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta and Indigo. Da Vinci Paint Co.: Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!