#007 Future Memory

This HotPot issue reflects on memory's influence during times of uncertainty, discusses creativity, habits, and anticipates a future sabbatical. It includes topics on space, home, and personal insights.

#007 Future Memory

Dearest Hotpot members,

First Hotpot monthly appearance after the first series of biweekly issues. What changed? Breathing space.

While I hope that it would make every step of the process comfortably stretch, the reality is that it did not, and just about two weeks before publishing, the hard work began.

A brief look back, before letting this new issue unravel:

  1. Publishing a blog through a membership program
  2. Comfort zone
  3. Being a generalist
  4. Information, knowledge, wisdom
  5. Building habits and meaning crisis
  6. Space, place, and home

+ a bonus interview with Jason Page!

Writing about all of this made unexpected themes emerge on the surface of the simmering Hotpot, and without writing about it and your messages and support, they would still be probably hidden at the bottom of it.

After writing issues 4 and 6, memory is a theme that I am determined to explore further.

In complex times, defined by uncertainty, meaning crisis, polarization, information overflow, and-you-name-it, it feels more relevant than ever to look at the role that memory has both for the individual and collective without falling into the trap of romanticizing the past and running into the nostalgification of everything, but to use memory to actively and intentionally understand and shape future identity, knowledge, and unleash creativity.

New Year's Eve 1999

31st December 1999. Trouble remembering? Try listening to this. My parents used to throw big parties in their thirties and forties.

They were amazing, the parties; they still are and will always be, my parents.

11-year-old me, at the stroke of midnight, was celebrating the coming of the new year. It was a big one, it was the 2000. Nothing you would ever want to forget.

I had to remember that moment. I was afraid to forget it.

This is the memory of that party. A little me roaming and screaming around our garden, under the flashes and roars of the fireworks, and consciously wanting to remember, afraid to forget that very moment.

That vivid intentionality comes back to mind when thinking about the future, about moments I wish to make memorable and meaningful.

Exploring Future Memories

In August I will put on pause my work-life for 8 months. It’s happening.

I know that I can neither imagine nor remember such a lengthy stretch of time in all its details.

Like the innocent desire of an 11-year-old who wanted to make something memorable, the grown-up me is now wondering what could make this future experience meaningful and unforgettable.

A recurring question. How could I turn it not only into an opportunity to recharge and recenter but also to explore new creative trajectories and possibly support the building of new foundations for the future? Lots of expectations to put on a sabbatical.

I am trying to imagine what memories I would love to create and carry with me. I am trying to imagine and paint possible “Future memories”. It kinda clicks, right? This concept intuitively hints at how anticipation and intentionality might influence how we are going to shape our future steps. It hints also at how we think about the future considering our past and present.

Future vs past

While a sabbatical is a time off from work, I can’t help but look back at the times when exploring Italy has been a professional endeavor.

Marea impressions

In 2016, my friend Mattia Risaliti and I, founded Marea, an agency based in Berlin with the mission to connect Italian workmanship to international brands.

While working on Marea, we both realized that our naiveté and good intent made us better explorers, connectors, and storytellers driven by their curiosity to connect with people, identity, and cultural heritage rather than “sourcing intermediaries”.

On top of this, I will never forget this fatherly warning about the “favorite sport” of that business: Leapfrog. In other words "cutting out the middleman".

Marea had to be financially viable from the start, and this has made us focus on clear objectives that were set before our explorations. Before exploring the opportunities that could arise from traveling, researching, and connecting with different people, we had already set out to do something based on a clear need, but that was not perhaps the best alignment with our hearts.

This has narrowed down our focus and probably made us ignore signals that could have put us, if considered, on a different trajectory. Lesson learned. The hard way!

So if not objectives, what could be better guardrails when looking at this upcoming experience? Big fan of "principles" here.

Principles vs Objectives

Echoing the insights of my friend and governance designer Artem Zighanov, I am drawn to the philosophy where principles, rather than objectives, offer guidance and can inspire actions within a realm of collective understanding and shared context. Imagine an organization where actions are based on objectives and one where actions are based on principles.

The first could be described as a retroactive approach where with a clear target all the necessary actions and steps to get there are mapped and executed. The latter could be described more as a platform to create and shape the unknown starting from a shared understanding and alignment.

Before putting pins on the map, (I need to start at some point) I am trying to listen to myself and identify what values and principles could guide me both in the planning and in the experience itself.


As the sabbatical approaches, I know that the key to making it meaningful and memorable (for me at least) is to look both inward and backward.

Inward, to seek principles that will determine my actions. Backward, to acknowledge that my past experience has a role in how I look at my upcoming endeavors.

With this in mind, I know that I will come up with ways to interact, to explore, to collect, to share that will be as close as possible to my center and heart. I look forward to this and to finding ways to make you part of the journey.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Last week I had the pleasure to participate in a mindfulness class hosted by my dear friend and old schoolmate Benas Burdulis.

Receiving Benas’ message in a group chat inviting his old schoolmates to embark on his journey of development and becoming part of his mindfulness teacher training has been humbling. This week the first much-anticipated class took place and I must say it has been a great exercise that I am eager to repeat on my own.

It feels more relevant and needed than ever to create the conditions to listen to my own heart and emotions, appreciating my mental, physical, and spatial presence without judgment. Again, without judgment.

In other forms, writing Hotpot over the last few months has been a way to check in with me and has brought new and deeper awareness. The little I know about mindfulness is that it should be awareness and loving kindness towards it that refrains us from impulsive judgment.

I am curious to see what this introduction will unlock and I could not be happier to be introduced to these cognitive skills by the reassuring guidance of an old and respected friend.

Monthly Picks:

  • Emanuele Trevi - “La casa del mago” and “Due Vite”.
    In the Mondadori bookstore in Bergamo, I am always amazed by the staff's advice. Holding a few travel guides in my hands, I shared about my upcoming journey and the topics I explored through Hotpot and came out of the store with narrative books about home, return, and memory. I already enjoyed very much the first of this selection, “La casa del mago” by Emanuele Trevi. An introspective journey of grief and memory.

    Taken by the author’s writing style I also listened to Due Vite, awarded with the Strega Prize, and about the friendship that tied the author with two friends, Rocco Carbone and Pia Pera who passed away prematurely. To enjoy the depth of this writing I gotta re-read this instead of listening to it.
  • "Si Mangia" by Mattia Risaliti is out!!!
    Remember Mattia in the lines above? Well, he is now an acclaimed food stylist and will always be a designer at heart. He, his wife Milia Seyppel, and friend and photographer Nathalie Mohadjer, and the whole Risaliti family (nothing less than 11 siblings + parents) have published a recipe book called “Si Mangia” with Prestel (Yes, that Prestel). Big deal. Get in Mattia’s DMs on Instagram and get a copy.
So proud of you, Mattia!
  • The “Tipping Point” by Malcome Gladwell. After listening to this book on my Eastern drive to Italy, two concepts stuck with me: the "stickiness of ideas" and the "immunity" (resistance) we might develop against it. A book written in pre-social media times that will make you appreciate anticipations and intuitions about how ideas spread.
  • VaSentiero.org
    When I found Vasentiero.org, I was in awe of what Sara Furlanetto and Yuri Basilicò have achieved. A digital guide of immense value, a beautiful book with a curated selection of hikes along the Sentiero Italia, an ongoing community project, and an incredible journey I hope I will be crossing paths with and taking inspiration from.
  • Support with a donation to Corrente Cinema, a project that is trying to bring back the Cinema in Ballarò by turning back on the lights of the ex-Edison cinema. Well done Giulia Di Maggio and Bea Perego.

Memory picks:

Two of my favorite podcasts of all time look at the past to analyze the future:
The secret history of the future

Soonish by Wade Roush
A wonderful episode: The inventor of the cellphone says the future is still calling

A special thanks for this issue goes to my sister Alessandra.

Thank you, too, for letting this channel of conversation open and if you have been reading till here, to stay engaged.
While it might seem that this is monodirectional, I'd love to be in touch, should you ever want to reach out.

Drop a message at hotpot@andreabrena.com or let's meet.

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Thank you for reading.
See you soon!