One of our big goals in curating evenings for Just the Ticket: An Insider’s Guide to Great Evenings Out in Washington, DC is to put together a series of experiences that will be memorable. At the risk of waxing philosophical, a human being consists fundamentally of a string of memories. Participating in activities that are easy to remember is basically a way to live more or bigger. We think there are three main things that make an experience especially memorable.
First, it is helpful if the experience includes strong and distinct sensory experiences. Visual appeal, texture, flavor, scent, and sound anchor memory. Sometimes, the sensory experience can be so strong it survives the rest of the memory. “Honey, where were we when we had that really incredible key lime pie?” Usually, though, stimulating the senses helps pin the memory to other facets of the experience and keep them fresh. We try to take advantage of this factor by choosing tasty food and drink in elegant surroundings, and leaning towards plays with an element of spectacle.
Second, we remember the exceptional better than we remember the routine. To a very large extent, things we do repeatedly like driving a commute or taking a favorite walk, get averaged together into one mega-memory. Even in those cases though, a sudden break from the script can anchor a memory. Pete has a regular walking route, around our neighborhood and through the National Zoo, that he does a few times a week for exercise. Two weeks ago, the Zoo was suddenly full of sculptures of sea creatures made of beach debris intended to dramatize the problem of ocean pollution (information here). That change to his expectations made that an especially memorable version of that walk. In our evening plans, we hope we’re showing you slivers of the DC area that aren’t already familiar to you, so that surprise can help rev up memory formation.
Finally, experiences you process in conversation lodge in memory. Inside the brain, when you remember something you really are telling yourself a story or putting on an internal play of what happened. Talking about the experience shortly after it happens lets your brain rehearse for later remembering. That’s why we recommend making some time toward the end of your evening to chat about the experience and start drafting the script for what your memory will perform for you in years to come.
So when it comes to crafting an evening out, we’re helping you make memories with sensory stimulation, novelty, and conversation. Please let us know what else makes an evening stand out in your mind at firstname.lastname@example.org.