A 3-Month Solo Trip In One Second Clips

A little project I did during my recent trip around Central and South America was to take a one-second video, everyday, with the (appropriately-named) 1 Second Everyday app.

Spawned by one of my favorite TED Talks,  the app splices together your clips and sticks the date in the bottom corner, creating a sort of highlight reel for your life.

In the talk, speaker Cesar Kuriyama explains that he started doing this for a number of reasons. Among them were that he simply hated not remembering moments of his life, and also that simply by looking at a one second clip he was able to trigger memories of much more than just what was in that brief moment. In a way, it was also more than just a reminder to take a video, but to do so something out-of-the-ordinary and “worth remembering”, everyday.

Do this daily for a year and you’ll end up with about a six-minute video of your year to look back on (and a pretty priceless keepsake).

As a big journaler, I always loved this idea since it is basically the video (and less time-intensive) version of the same thing. I stuck with using 1SE reasonably well during the summers of 2013 and 2014, but always fizzled out with it for one reason or another. Unfortunately I am not sure if the clips are stored anywhere I can salvage them.

But ahead of my trip (and with a phone that could better handle the app), I decided to give it a go again.

Aside from the couple of weird/upside down shots and one of  me trying to be a little too sneaky in Spanish class, I consider it to be a success:

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWlvLfnEFag[/embedyt]

I love taking pictures, however I find going through and sorting/editing/compiling them to be tedious and uninteresting. In terms of giving myself something to look back on from my trip, I love this 1SE idea much better than a photo album.

While it certainly ‘triggers’ my memory like Cesar says, I think it also gives back a much more honest feel to myself (and possibly to others, too) about what the trip was actually like. It also takes minimal effort since the app does just about everything for you (aside from pointing your phone at something cool and hitting record).

Since returning to the ‘real world’, I have been trying to keep the 1SE habit going. I’ve shown or told more people about Cesar’s TED Talk than any other, but the refrain I often hear back from many is that they don’t have anything worth capturing and that it’d just be them “sitting at a desk all day”.

But what I learned from doing this, both on the trip and before, is that a) there is something unique about everyday if you look for it and b) the mundane of routine becomes sentimental nostalgia tomorrow, and certain everyday details you take for granted now may be the ones you look back on with the most fondness in the future.

Sometimes I daydream about what my video might look like if I had started doing this years before, about what little details I took for granted then that I wouldn’t mind re-living now once more, even just in the form of a one-second clip: the empty pickle buckets we’d use as chairs and builds forts with at my fry cook job; the croon of the guy giving away A.M. NEW YOOOOOOORK inside Penn Station; the side streets I’d take home after high school so I could see the most autumn foliage possible.

Even travel isn’t without its fair share of tame moments. Take the clip of me eating gelato on October 22, for instance. Despite it (in my opinion) being one of the more ‘boring’ clips I shot, from that one innocuous second alone I can remember:

  • At the table seated next to me was what looked like a retired American marine (based on his build and hat) and his wife
  • A fluffy pooch was going from table to table asking for his own free samples
  • The owner of the place was setting up a keyboard in the corner of the shop, preparing to entertain his customers
  • That I was feeling kind of down and homesick that day
  • The teenage girl behind the counter was surprised that I ordered in Spanish

And so on. A picture could probably trigger all of that and more, but I feel that the “aliveness” of video adds an extra dimension to your memory that a picture never could.

You could argue that the mind already remembers whatever is worth remembering, but given how many perceived ‘brilliant’ ideas I’ve lost after neglecting to write them down, I personally have stopped trusting mine. I want to remember the minutiae, the trivial, and the easily-forgotten details that are both unique to my life, yet also help me relate with others in a way that makes them go, “that’s funny, I noticed or experienced that too!”

Life isn’t just the ends of the bell curve; it’s everything that lies in between as well. And any detail can become one worth reminiscing over if you put in the little amount of effort required, be it through journaling, 1SE, or something else.

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