5 Deeply Personal Memories, and Why I Keep Them in Evernote

A big part of Evernote’s marketing is centered around the idea of memory. Phrases like “your external brain” and “remember everything” make this clear. Why, then does so much of the Internet chatter around Evernote focus on things like paperless living and workplace productivity? Of course Evernote is fine for those things—I personally employ it for many such tasks—but I think a great big chunk of Evernote’s exploding user base is missing out on a really killer feature of the product.

Of course, I’m talking about storing actual, emotion-based memories in Evernote. And not just the great plate of fish you had at your last birthday or that photo of your special lady looking especially toothsome (check and check, by the way), but the more momentous events that take place in people’s lives which, given the advent of little pocket computers, are painfully simple to capture.

Today, I’m going to open the kimono a little bit and tell you guys a few of my most valued Evernote notes that are based on some of the most memorable and important events in my life.

My Father’s Obituary and Funeral Guest Book

Yeah, I know, it’s a little weird, but it’s legit. My dad passed away when I was 20 (1999) and I’ve had a old newspaper clipping of his obituary in my possession since that time. Not long ago, I scanned it into Evernote and threw the paper clipping away. I also scanned in the pages and pages of handwritten names of people who came to his funeral, as well as the little program thing they gave everybody. I love that I’ll be able to show my kids not just a photo of their grandpa (whom they’ve never met), but the hundreds of people who came to pay their respects at his memorial.

My Son’s First Lost Tooth

My oldest, 6 years old as I write this, lost his first tooth a couple of months ago. This is a big-ish occasion for us as parents and a monumental rite of passage for my boy, so I snapped several photos of the little white tooth, the note the “tooth fairy” left for him and, of course his new and improved smile. All this stuff went straight into Evernote a few minutes after it happened, so when he’s older, I’ll be able to show him not only a series of photos marking the occasion, but the date, exact time and exact location. Remember, shit like this was—quite literally—impossible just a few years ago.

My Wife’s Engagement Ring Purchase Receipt

Marrying the little redheaded firecracker sitting a few feet away from me is one of my greatest victories as a man. I think back to walking around the jewelry store with her, helping her pick out the perfect ring that we couldn’t even kind of afford. It was a fantastic time and now I have a copy of the slip of paper we got along with the ring; a copy that will never fade, be misplaced or destroyed.

The Best Birthday Present I’ve Ever Received

Roughly a decade ago, my wife and I were living in our first apartment not far from here. It was early November when I received a package in the mail; a letter-sized paper envelope that was busting at the seams. I opened it up and found a hodge-podge of Linux CDs, handwritten notes and other such things, but what really made my jaw hit the floor was a heavily scrawled-upon birthday card and the map, pictured to the right (click to see the bigger version)

This map represents the U-shaped path that this little care package had taken across North America and back. You see, several friends of mine from a (now defunct, sadly) IRC channel had gotten together and decided to do something for my birthday, so each of these guys would receive this package in the mail from the previous guy, sign a birthday card and mark their location on the map, include anything they felt like including and mail it to the next guy. After an absurd number of stops, it showed up at my door. Looking at this picture still wells me up a little bit because I’d never shaken the hand of any of these dudes, but they did this. I don’t ever want to forget that (and I won’t).

My Daughter’s First Ballet Dance Recital Thingie

(I don’t actually know if “recital” is the right word, but I digress)

My little girl is just about the most beautiful thing in the whole universe. I remember the day like it was yesterday, but it won’t be that way forever. Seeing her in her little costume, wearing a little bit of makeup for the first time and watching her four-year-old self out on stage and dancing for an auditorium full of people; that’s one of my proudest moments as a father and a cherished memory for me.

As you can probably guess by now, I’ve got oodles of photos and words describing what that day was like, all in Evernote where they’ll probably outlive me. What a gift to give my daughter when she’s grown that she can show her own husband and children.


I’ve talked before about how I use Evernote to build my own history book; a detailed account of my life that goes beyond a bunch of bank records, Jiffy Lube receipts and beer labels. I’m not just blowing smoke when I say that many of the most important moments in my life are safely housed in my trusty Evernote account, where one day I’ll be able to hand the whole mess over to the next generation of our family.

Call me stupid or whatever, but it brings me peace to know that so much of what’s important to me isn’t just shoved in some file box somewhere in a hall closet. Having all of it at my fingertips and taking casual strolls down memory lane is one of my favorite parts of using Evernote.

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