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Do You Have A Favorite Memory?

The difference between happiness and joy is vast. What we call joy might only be mere happiness, and much of what we call happiness might actually be contentment or the absence of pain. While there are many things I enjoy today, and many days that are wonderful, my son has given me new perspective.

There is not enough joy out there.  As an adult, I would choose my wedding day and the day Max was born as the happiest of my life.  But when I think about my favorite memories, for sheer, delirious, minute-by-minute euphoria, they’re always from my childhood.

The best day

When I was in Junior high, I had computer class first period.  One morning the teacher came over and said I was needed in the office.  This scared me.  Good kids didn’t get sent to the office, and I wasn’t cool enough to act out.

When I got to the office, my dad was standing there with my best friend’s mom.  Then my friend appeared at the other end of the hall.  My dad had bought tickets to go see the Utah Jazz play in the playoffs, weeks earlier. It was my first time going to an NBA game, and I was going with my dad and my best friend.

We left school, drove to Salt Lake City, watched the game, and arrived home about 17 hours later. What is most memorable about it all is that every single minute of that day was absolute bliss. very single minute was fun.

I’m not sure that I still have those sorts of days in me.  Is this part of being an adult?  Most of my best days are still tempered with thoughts of obligations and nagging problems in the background.

What do you think?  Do we lose the ability to enjoy things on the level of childhood?  If so, can we et it back?  What are your favorite memories of happiness so intense you barely survived it?  Let’s talk in the comments section.

PS: The Jazz won that basketball game.  I wouldn’t surprise anyone with a trip to see them these days.  Could turn into a disaster.


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  • Casey August 6, 2009, 8:16 am

    The next best thing to having a happy moment is reliving a happy moment. Thanks for digging up some happy memories Josh!

    I spent most of my wedding day exhausted, running late, and having my attention way to divided. Even though it was only 8 months ago I can hardly remember most of it. Our honeymoon however was some of the greatest days I’ve ever had. Get your minds out of the gutter everyone!

    We spent a week in Cancun, exploring Mayan ruins, parasailing, scuba diving, eating too much, swimming, walking the beach at night, and spending every moment together. Spending a week with my best friend doing all of our favorite things is my favorite memory!

    When I was little my dad worked out of town almost all week long. On the night he would come home I would ride my bike out to the main street where I could see for nearly a mile. I would wait for hours carefully examining each car in the distance wait ting, anticipating seeing dad’s blue and white pickup. When the time finally came and the truck rolled into sight was pure ecstasy, and I would try to race him the final block back to our house. Everything else faded away as me and my dad got those few special minutes together.
    (What? Oh nothing… just something in my eye…)

    • Josh Hanagarne August 6, 2009, 8:36 am

      Casey, that’s great. And congratulations to the newlyweds. Thanks.

  • Larissa August 6, 2009, 10:14 am

    Well, I’ve spent about 15 minutes now going through a lot of great memories, and I think I’ve decided that one of my favorite memories is the first time I marched in a parade.
    I was in 7th grade and played the bass clarinet. Seriously I was (and probably still am) the biggest nerd out there. But I can remember so much of that day! I woke up with butterflies in my stomach, practiced the music one more time before leaving the house, got to school and put on that uniform for the first official time. Sounds so ridiculous, but I felt so special wearing that uniform and silly hat with the plume. Then hoping on the bus with all my friends that were just as excited as I was as we got to downtown Riverside. I think it took about an hour before we actually started marching, but when we started, it was the most amazing thing! All these people clapping along, and little children looking up from the curb where they were sitting. I was in a lot more parades and field shows after that one, but, of course, nothing will take the place of that first one. 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne August 6, 2009, 10:43 am

      Larissa. Ah yes, you never forget your first clarinet parade performance:) thanks for sharing.

  • Jennifer August 6, 2009, 12:48 pm

    I think we lose the ability to experience joy when we let the minutia of daily life become the overriding focus of our existence. In childhood, we are in “the moment” much more often. We expect less and experience more. I have quite a few childhood memories of utter joy and my adult years have much less. Mainly, I believe, because I expect certain things from my planned outings/experiences. I also found interesting that my memories of childhood joy encompass more time whereas the adult memories are much shorter. Perhaps perception?

    • Josh Hanagarne August 6, 2009, 1:54 pm

      Jennifer, agreed, agreed, and agreed. Well said. It looks like it must be nice to be so smart. Is it nice?

  • Megan Horton August 6, 2009, 3:47 pm

    I can’t really peg one, but like you they’re all from our childhood. I have lots of fond memories of us playing on the trampoline, or taking trips.. There are so many good memories to choose from. We’re lucky we had such a fun and happy childhood Josh.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 6, 2009, 7:11 pm

      Megan, you’re absolutely right. The bad memories are so few and far between and they were my fault 99% of the time.

  • We Fly Spitfires August 6, 2009, 6:46 pm

    For me, it was probably Mortal Monday. It was a Monday. It was 1995 and I was 13. The game Mortal Kombat was released for the Sega Megadrive. The first 10 hours of that day (when I was at school) was like sheering hot pain yet the last 10 hours of the day (when I finally got home to play it) was like bathing in olive oil with lady virgins in some kind of utopia. I distinctly remember my brother performing his first fatality and ripping my spinal cord out of my body in a wave of a blood. And who says video games are bad for you?

    The next best memory would be my wedding day.

    I’ve got my priorities straight.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 6, 2009, 7:10 pm

      We Fly Spitfires. I remember Mortal Monday in the states. I had the Super Nintendo and they had turned all of the blood gray. It looked like sand was flying out of everyone. I’d been pouring over the photo spreads of the game in Nintendo Power magazine for months. The sand dripping from everyone’s beatdowns barely dampened my spirits. It was freaking glorious.

  • Sara August 7, 2009, 1:24 am

    Loved this post!! Lots of fond memories were brought back. I can remember an entire summer that was just simply blissful! I spent everyday at my best friends house, riding our bikes everywhere, to our local gas station, down to the river bottoms to go swimming or to the canal to go bridge jumping. That summer has always been so vivid in my mind. However like Jennifer said my adult blissful memories are much shorter & I agree with her that it comes from an expected outcome of a certain event or plan. I find myself being stressed out over a camping trip that didn’t follow the plan that I had made. I then look at the camping trip from my childhood that nearly ended in disaster when a flash flood swept away our entire camp site & remember how fun it was & how blissfully excited I was to see our things being washed down the canyon. A lot of people say their wedding day would be included but I remember feeling really overwhelmed & worried that things wouldn’t go as planned. I remember being worried that my in-laws wouldn’t get along with my family & if the pictures would turn out in the lighting. Of course I remember the saying I do & the you may kiss the bride but my mind was clouded with doubt & worry. Not about my marriage but about the day it self. After thinking about these awesome memories of my youth I began also thinking about how easy it was to get really upset & have a come-apart in my youth. I remember crying myself to sleep because Skyler didn’t write & pass a note back to me in science class. I remember breaking down into tears when my Mom said I couldn’t go to my friends house for the weekend. So I begin to wonder if it was just the sheer raw emotion that we have now learned to somewhat control that made us feel so incredibly happy.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 7, 2009, 10:20 am

      Sara, sucks to be a grownup, huh? As people have responded, the motif I see in most comments is that when you’re a child, you don’t have responsibilities to go back to once the fun is over. You just move on to the next fun thing.

  • Vanessa August 7, 2009, 6:04 pm

    I wish I could completely capture the ability to experience pure silly suffocating bliss like we did as kiddos. Gotta try atleast, thanks for the reminder. Also reminds me to keep these moments available for my boy often. No excuses.

    At 7 I got lost from my Grandma in downtown San Francisco. The BART (local underground speedrail) shut it’s doors and seperated us. Horrorified, I hung out exactly where I was left, clinging to my pencil ready to stab anyone who looked like they might kidnap or say hello to me. It took my Grandma about 20 mins to make it back to the station, but that night I was the bravest girl who ever
    lived in her eyes. She made me fried chicken and baked me a chocolate cake and I think I drank soda until the sun came up. Greatest day:)

    • Josh Hanagarne August 7, 2009, 7:50 pm

      Vanessa, good one. My parents never lost me. I haven’t lost track of Max yet since he’s not as mobile as he wants to be quite yet, but the thought terrifies me to death. I do like fried chicken and soda. Good thinking with that pencil!

  • Stephanie Smith August 11, 2009, 6:51 am

    Yes, childhood memories are great, BUT I am going to deviate from the norm and say we tend to put too much stock in both nostalgia and wanting a big happy experience.
    What about the little things – I have a happy memory every time I get a day alone with me, myself & I, curled up with the latest book fresh off the press from my favorite author. That is a great day.
    One from adult hood- the day I bought my first Harley – I couln’t get the smile off my face for days!

    • Josh Hanagarne August 11, 2009, 7:37 am

      Stephanie, thanks. I know a man who collects Harleys. He smiles at the mere thought of a new washrag to polish the chrome with. I’m with you on the little things as well. There’s nothing I enjoy so much as reading a book by a fire or laughing with friends when it’s way too late to make any sense.