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Do you remember the time?

Facebook is now called Meta. I couldn't help but think about how this giant has changed the way we think, as album makers did decades ago. At one time, we had only photographs and albums for expression, but now this has been replaced with Facebook, which came with the concept of sharing. To me, this has incurred even more damage to our self-expression.

While growing up, I recall finding the album plastic wraps restrictive as they were only good for storing photographs. I was so accustomed to boxes and books that let us express ourselves more freely. Even so, my father was always writing notes behind the photographs and sometimes on the plastic film itself - little notes that described the moment in the photograph uniquely. When I look at those photographs years later, I don't just see an obvious picture of me crying, but thanks to the notes I know I am throwing a tantrum because my Legos have been taken from me to get me to bed. With digital documentation all around us, it is a delight to be able to experience carefully selected moments that emerged from our digital naivety, allowing us to fully experience the moment.

A beautiful Friday afternoon finds me sitting in my study surrounded by boxes containing objects that seem to be from another time. The woody smell of old books wafts through the room as they are placed out on the table. A one-hour organisation exercise becomes a full day of reminiscing amidst a growing pile of things to sort as you discover something you forgot you had. It's one thing that Marie Kondo forgets to factor into cleaning and organizing - the never-ending stops on memory lane. But there is one possession that surpasses the photo albums and all things Meta, it's the messy, incomplete and inconsistent scrapbooks. With ticket stubs, scribbled thoughts on tissue paper, photographs, museum guides, maps, newspaper clippings about everything from the Bermuda Triangle to Harry Potter, rocks, sand and weird collages about celebrity crushes with handwritten descriptions. The fact that scrapbooking exists since the age of printing proves that it is more than just a hobby. In essence, it is the purest form of storytelling.

The printing press was invented in the 15th century, resulting in the first family bibles. Many families recorded the full names, birth and death dates, and marriage dates of their children and other family members on blank endpapers at the end of the text and at the beginning of the book. Documents were sometimes stored between pages for safekeeping by families. Families often inserted newspaper clippings, birth announcements, obituaries, and sentimental items in between pages, and some bibles even included slots for photos.

During the Renaissance, upper-class Europeans made commonplace books popular. Known as memory aids, these books contained recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas, and notes from other texts.

People began adding clippings, cards, and other printed memorabilia to blank, bound books that were mainly used for artwork during the 19th century. These items often included handwritten journal entries, watercolours, and various scraps of printed material. In this way, they represented the chaos of life. There were not just pretty pastel colours, calligraphy and quotes, but they were genuine and thoughtful.

One of the best things about this medium is how humbling it is to tell stories and to think about the people who created these things in those moments, what they were thinking, their fears and worries. It is as though they encapsulate all of our five senses and transport us to a time that captured our hearts - the way it smelled, the way it looked, the way we felt. In retrospect, some of my fad habits when I was younger are now some of the things that help me accomplish one very important aspect of life we all seem to skip - pausing.

By scrapbooking, I pause and reflect. By collecting and keeping the moments I wanted to preserve, I gave chosen information a sense of permanence. Although it would be wrong for me to say that huge amounts of information weren't available at the time that I first scissored a newspaper or boldly wrote my 5-year plan, it has become evident that it is needed now more than ever, where my pinned boards alone can be a lot to handle. An old stamp, a crumpled museum ticket stub, a pressed rose, a fading sea-blue inland letter; all of these little things preserve pieces of ourselves, through the passage of time.

After all, nothing can prepare a recipe such as that old diary with stained and handwritten papers that have been used over and over again for a recipe that is far more special than anything even Gordon Ramsay can serve up. Within that paper are the memories of our grandmothers' kitchens, the fragrance of a curry everyone loves and the excitement of being gathered around the table to eat her meals. Such is the power of scrapbooking.


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