Using Obsidian to capture memories

Hi all, I’ve been using Obsidian for a couple of months now. I have been watching a lot of videos and occasionally browsing the forums, etc. The community is fantastic, and it’s been so helpful with getting started.

My question is that I wonder if anyone has a good system for just capturing random memories in Obsidian. If I think about something random from my childhood, and I want to capture it, I’m not sure of a good way to put it into my “system”. If it’s something short, sometimes I will just capture it in a daily note, but then, I can lose the context of it if it’s just in a random day’s note.

I could make an MOC for Memories, I guess, but I’m not sure how I’d create categories and such.

Has anyone done anything like this, or do you have any suggestions?

Thanks in advance!

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I don’t have any advice, but this thread might be relevant because of the focus on memory capture:
Obsidian, Stroke, and Dementia

A while back I read a post regarding someone using OneNote and having a page for each calendar day (Format: Jan. 25 for example) and then posting on the page for the current day noting its year and weekday (and then when you come back around to that day in a year inserting the current year’s post at the top) to be able to come back and see what day things happened and when.

Title: Jan. 25

Jan. 25th (day of week) 2020
- Went to play basketball with Friend
- Played hopscotch like a boss

Jan. 25th ... 2019
- Twidled my thumbs
- Went out to A Bar with the crew

Jan. 25th ... 2018
- Other cool things I did on this day

It felt hard to know what the cutoff would be for “things I might want to remember” when coming back because it might be interesting to know what you were having for dinner at some point in your life, or that might also just be distracting noise. It also seemed like a clunky system to me even though it did the job assuming that you’re using words that are descriptive and unique enough for a search. It did, however, seem like a really helpful practice that would let you come back to a day, even if just for fun, to stir up memories.

In a somewhat similar vein, I use my daily notes to give me a place to note important things that happened regarding “work” and “life” that I would note as an “event”. I then have a general space that has things like Zettelkasten type fleeting notes (ideas and thoughts as they come up) along with more in-depth descriptions of interesting things that happened during the day or context around things that wouldn’t really be easily summarized as an event.

My template looks like

2021.06.30 Wed.
# Events
### WORK
- Introduced to [[@Colleague]]
- Work event of note
- Note of traveling to [[City, State]]
- Etc.

### LIFE
- Life event of note
- Evening hang out with friends at [[@AwesomeFriend]]'s house
- Talked with [[@OtherAwesomeFriend]] at Restaurant Alphabet Soup in [[City, State]]
- Etc.

# General
- An in-depth description of how a conversation with friends at [[@Friend]]'s house felt and what made the atmosphere feel great
- Random idea around Obsidian daily notes
- Interesting idea sparked from a comment someone mentioned in conversation at work
- Etc.

These are all examples that I listed and some days I don’t have anything in most of the sections. I try and at least find something to write in my general section as a practice of ‘writing every day’, but I don’t do it every day.

I link to and from these notes to give them even more context.
Your mileage may vary, but I do really enjoy even just taking a moment to think about “what happened today?” and finding significance in some things that I would want to note that might have otherwise passed me by if I didn’t take the time.

Don’t know if this is exactly what you were asking, but this is how I capture some memories in Obsidian.

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I do something very similar in my Daily Notes now. I have sections for ## Thoughts and ## Learned About. Also, being a programmer by trade, I wrote a program that I run every once in a while to compile all of my “thoughts” and “learned abouts” into one large note.

I like the idea of the note for each day as well. Maybe this, coupled with Timehop, will help me remember what I did on certain days. It’s too bad that I didn’t have Facebook and social media in my childhood to mark the dates that I did all these things.

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Yeah, I find myself tracing through social media or my calendar to help me frame and track down stuff from time to time, definitely nice to have.

Also I just realized that your question was slightly more focused on noting down something random from your childhood or general past that is less clear on the date. If I know the day that something happened will make a “past daily note” that is similar to my daily note file, but I use a ^ symbol right at the front to denote that it is a past note and was filled out from the future (I do this when I miss a daily note day and want to go back and just note an event as well). It looks like this:

^{{date}}
# Events
### WORK
- 

### LIFE
- 

# General

But I recognize that if you don’t know the date and are just trying to record down the memory with as much context as you can a specific date note might not be the solution.

I think your idea of using a MOC for those memories seems intriguing to me and might be how I try and start doing that (I’m inspired). I feel like there are a lot of memories that I have that I want to get down, but I couldn’t easily get the date that it happened. I think a MOC by year might work, or a MOC by season of life (Iowa, college, first home, etc.). Those feel like contexts that might be easier to nail down even if the specific time frame or location can’t be determined from your memory. I’d probably try and note that memory with a #lookup or #worth_updating tag to come back to in the future to see if you could nail down the date and any more info, but go ahead and get the memory out of your head into your external Obsidian system with whatever info you have.

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Oh, I really like this idea! Having a different MOC for different seasons of life sounds like a really interesting idea. At the moment, I just have “Memories”, but it could definitely be split up more to get more of a focus. Also, I think the splitting up of the seasons might trigger memories, like if I make a “College” MOC, then I might remember a story about my roommate that I want to write down, etc.

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One of my core uses for Obsidian is capturing memories. Well, not capturing them actually, but storing and connecting them. I use two main categories: travel memories (we travel regularly, and I regularly revisit old trips) and life memories (everything else, basically). Naturally, my travel memories are divided out by trip, usually containing both raw in-the-moment notes as well as more formal journaling. I also do something I call progressive journaling with these, whereby I continually update them with new thoughts/insights/memories.

For the life memories, I’ve done something to rayt’s “season of life” MOC idea. I have MOCs for various “seasons” of my life, as well as MOCs on important themes. So for the seasons, I have one that encompasses my life until 2nd grade when we moved across the country, another for the following two years, another for the next five years, another for high school, one for college, and then a series of them until the present. For me, those work to capture notes (both big and small memories, as well as other random bits of info i just want to archive related to that time period).

I also have theme-related MOCs that work a bit differently, but which often overlap the above items. Backlinks and MOCs are perfect for this (I’ve also tried to use tags with mixed results so far). The themes help tie together various parts of my life that transcend the “seasons.” Example MOCs include: Dating (basically, notes around many of the various non-major relationships I’ve had, including good/bad memories, personal insights about myself, and other “diary” like notes), Career, Jen (my wife), specific family and important friends, my ASU Football fandom, and other topics or major hobbies that occupied a lot of my attention over the years.

Now, this may seem like a lot, but really these mostly just act as buckets, wherein I toss a memory when I think about it. Some MOCs are sparse, some are comprised mainly from content I’ve pasted in from other places, some are aspirational—things I want to capture for posterity, but haven’t done so yet. I also asked for a “mini biography” of my youth from my Mom as birthday gift; she really enjoyed writing it from her perspective. I’ve included it in my my vault and it’s been a blast reading and integrating it into my own notes/memories (it’s remarkable how differently we remember some things!).

So far, I’m happy with the overall process of this. Just having a place to put a memory in what feels like a generally permanent system has really helped me spend more time adding details and new notes and reliving old memories and reflecting on my life. It’s been a powerful endeavor, really. And in an age where many of us spend so much time consuming content, it’s been such a pleasure to spend more of my time creating instead.

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Thanks for sharing these insights! This was really great to go through.

In addition to capturing my own memories, my dad died when I was 3 years old, and I am really trying to catalogue what I can about him from others who knew him (his brother and sister and my mom and older brother). I really want memories to be able to pass along to my kids about him.

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As a newcomer to Obsidian, I’m happy to hear about how this has worked for you to capture memories! I don’t jot down seasons of life as much as certain chapters that are often named after my friend groups, conflicts, and learning experiences. In one year so far, I have 6 chapters. These often intersect and happen at the same time, so I’ve used these experiences to track how they affect my mood and my reflection process.

Something I’m testing out right now is having links for specific people in my life with whom I have a deep or long conversation with. My hope is that I can see how these people may have connected with the other chapters of my life and therefore have more mindful interactions with them. With the graph, I can visually see the people whom I’ve trusted under various circumstances.

I hope this gave some additional ideas, but this is still in testing.

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