Why You Should Tell Your Story–The Power of Remembering

journal“We do not know the true value of our moments until they have undergone the test of memory. Like the images the photographer plunges into a golden bath, our sentiments take on color; and only then, after that recoil and that transfiguration, do we understand their real meaning and enjoy them in all their tranquil splendor.” ~Georges Duhamel (The Heart’s Domain, 1919).

Three of my favorite movies of all time are The Notebook, The Story of Us, and Eat, Pray, Love. Though very different, they share a common, invisible thread that pulls viewers deep into the fabric of the journey–the inherent power in remembering.

Memories get pressed, exalted, twisted, tangled, made straight again as they evolve, inform and inspire. Readers and viewers then merge their own experience into the story and adopt it as their own. The writer becomes part of the family tapestry.

Documented recollections (our own and those of other people) connect us. It doesn’t really matter if they are fiction or nonfiction, memoirs or imagination. Once shared they bind us; mystically weaving our thoughts and emotions together along a collective path.

I often wish there was a book of life filled with stories written by my ancestors–something readily available to feed my soul. I long to hear their voices; breathe in their wisdom; experience a day in the life from the past.

Be present. Live in the moment. Happiness is learning to appreciate the here and now. Yes, I know. That all sounds good and as a rule I try to practice it; but there are times when the past becomes the present in powerful, healing ways through the written word.

Today is my son’s 10th birthday and I am struggling with the arrival of double digits. I blinked and a decade disappeared. I feel like I can’t find the words to tell him how significant his presence is, was, and always will be in my life. I want him to know. I need him to know. Now–but also in the future when I am no longer here to remind him.

He not only inherited my love language (words of affirmation), but also my passion for books. Not the digital variety, but the kind you hold in your hands and fall in love with through touch, smell, and time spent cuddling by the fire. He may be obsessed with playing games on a tablet, but he refuses to read or write on one. He loves his journal and his favorite place to visit is the bookstore or a library. He has only been 10 for a second, but he is an old soul like his mother.

Recently we had a mommy/son night at the local bookstore (I sincerely dread the day I become mom instead of mommy). We browsed the stacks together laughing about titles like The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published and Quantum Physics for Dummies.

Our last stop before checkout and hot cocoa in the coffee shop was the journal section. Each one has its own personality, inviting you to breathe life into it with your words. Maybe it’s a cover with an inspirational quote that seems to whisper, “Psst–over here. I’m speaking to you.” Or perhaps you are drawn to a more classic, Italian leather style. One in particular captured my attention—My Life, My Story, A Mother’s Legacy Journal. The title spoke to my heart. The deep purple cover, the embossed lettering and this part of the message printed on the introduction page closed the deal:

As I share my life with you on these pages, I will pass on the wisdom, values, and memories that have graced my days—with the hope that, somehow, reading my story will help you write yours, beautifully and meaningfully.”

Yes, my precious child who shares my love for words. That is exactly what I want to do–share my past so you can carry it with you into the future. I couldn’t wait to sign on the dotted line and record this journal as a gift from my heart and soul to my heart and soul–my children.

Both of my kids love stories about the past—my stories, their stories, stories about grandparents and great grandparents. I have more than one bookshelf dedicated to documenting memories: baby books, school days journals, handwritten recipes from my grandmother. For me, it’s as if the memories will disappear if they aren’t written down.

It’s not only the written word that transports us of course: photographs, songs, certain smells, objects. They all have a story to tell. When my grandmother passed away, I really only wanted one thing from the piles of boxes that now housed her treasures–plastic cups she always kept in the easy to reach kid cabinet along with sectional plates and ice cream bowls. Each time my own children use them, I’m 6 years old again having a snack before heading to the magic attic for dress up clothes. I continue to draw strength from the love and memories she infused into those seemingly simple cups. They are my personal fountain of youth.

One of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou is, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” We all have one to tell; in fact, several. You never know who needs to hear it, now or 100 years from now. Make memories in the present, but also preserve them for the future. They are powerful and today will quickly become the past.

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