When my mother left behind a lifetime of letters and journals, she thought it likely that no one would read or care about what she had written. I know because she wrote as much. But she was wrong: I cared, and have read most of what she left behind. Her stories were a gift—a legacy—more valuable to me than money or possessions. Through her writing, this legacy of story remains for me and for succeeding generations, providing an intimate view of the past as perceived by her unique personality.
Reading what she wrote helped me gain a sense of what the world was like when she was young and how her environment and the society in which she grew up shaped her personality. Also, reading her unvarnished thoughts and responses to life helped me to explore how she influenced my ways of thinking and perceiving the world as I was growing up—in other words, how she shaped me. Now, instead of my having only stories about her, our stories have combined to form a more complete perspective.
So let me ask you: What is your legacy to the world? What will happen to your experiences, thoughts, perceptions, and memories—the stories you’ve created to make sense of life? Will you contribute to the rich history of your family by writing your own stories? Or will you leave behind only your possessions and other physical evidence of your time on earth?
There are many ways in addition to writing to leave a legacy of story: video, pictures, scrapbooks, and so on. Not everyone writes or has a desire to write, though if you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing that you journal. And if you journal, if you write letters, if you annotate your pictures, then you already have a rich treasure to give.
If you were to take that treasure and form it, like clay, into written vignettes or mini-stories of meaningful events in your life, then you have a say in how those stories are presented. Don’t worry about being “not a good enough writer,” or think your life is “not interesting enough,” or think that no one will care enough to read what you have written; instead, allow me to encourage you to dust off your memories, get out that pen, and write.
Today’s mundane is tomorrow’s history. Don’t let the world lose yours.
Photo by Janet 59