Curious Insight

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Curious Insight

One Second Every Day

7th September 2016

A few months ago, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts - NPR's TED Radio Hour - when I came across a TED talk that really stuck out. It was a talk given by Cesar Kuriyama called one second every day. Cesar describes a one-year project during which he recorded one second of his life every single day and then stitched the result together into a single continuous video. Since hearing that talk, I decided to give this a try myself. I've been recording moments each day for a while now and felt the need to share because this is such a simple yet powerful idea.

The original approach that Cesar used was to pick the most interesting or memorable moment each day and record that, because it would "nudge" you to do interesting things so you've got something worth recording. But there are lots of different ways to approach this. It could be random, otherwise mundane moments. It could be snapshots of your kids, or a selfie, or anything really. What I've found most fascinating about this experiment is how it doesn't really matter what you record. That one-second clip is enough to sort of "jog" your memory and surface details about that day that otherwise might have been hard to remember. I don't know if the effect is quite the same watching someone else's life play out as it is for your own. There's so much context around each clip that only you will be aware of. One might think that a single second of video isn't much, but it's interesting how much can be recalled just from that. It's like a trigger that loads bits and pieces from your brain's long-term storage for that day and puts them into working memory. I would probably never be able to remember what I did two Thursdays ago, but I can see the moment I recorded that day and go "oh yeah, we did x and then y and then z happened". And when you put it all together, the result is mesmerizing.

The hardest part is just remembering to record something every day, but this is also one of the benefits. By forcing yourself to think about finding a moment to record, you'll unconsciously spend more time in the present and less time worrying about things that don't really matter. I don't want to oversell this with some deep philosophical argument but anecdotally my experience has been that just thinking about finding a snapshot in time to "immortalize" each day puts a lot of things in perspective.

If I've successfully convinced you to give this a try, you might be thinking about how it would be a pain in the ass to record and stitch together one-second video clips every day. And you're right, it would be. Fortunately, there's an app for that. It's not free, but the cost is marginal and well worth the time savings (and to be clear, I have no involvement or personal stake in this app, just passing along a recommendation). I've only used the iOS version but I think it's available for Android as well.

I can't wait to see what my highlight reel looks like years from now. I think seeing my kids grow up day by day over a period of months or years is going to be a surreal experience. So much of what we do and experience each day is lost, but with this one simple idea, it's possible to reclaim a small piece of it.

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