Your story is about how you changed or what you learned from your experiences. Nobody can truly know this except you. Your gift is sharing what you learned with others, so that they can learn from it, too.
1. Your story is being created. It may not be written down, but it is being told, except maybe not the way you would want or by whom you would want. It could be everything that you remember, but perhaps not the way you would remember it. If you grew up in a family with siblings, you know what I mean. “My side of the story” was often in conflict with my brothers’ and sister’s, and sometimes still is. That is because we have different perspectives on events that we shared, the household we grew up in, the people we knew and the people we loved.
2. Your story is your own. You are the narrator, the protagonist, the hero. There are those who would disagree with your story, but that’s because it’s not their own.
3. Your story is about how you changed or what you learned from your experiences. Nobody can truly know this except you. Your gift is sharing what you learned with others, so that they can learn from it, too.
4. Your story is probably incomplete or inaccurate if you depend upon the objects you leave behind to tell it for you. I have photographs, newspaper clippings, letters, journals, poetry, report cards, greeting cards, household and personal items, yearbooks, scrapbooks – that witness my life and the lives of people who were and are important to me. They can contribute to, but not tell my story.
5. Because I have all of the above, I have a good starting place for my own stories – my own personal collection of “story prompts”. You probably have your own, waiting for you.
6. If you choose to do nothing, your story may turn into a challenge (or a burden) for someone else to figure out. The day may come when people who don’t know about how Aunt Agnes taught you to cook from your great-grandmother’s book of recipes will toss that very cookbook into the trash along with the unlabeled photos of family members nobody recognizes.
7. If you get started, you’ll be ahead of where you are now. You’ll have more labeled family pics, plus you might have photos of meaningful items you possess, with notations of why they are important to you. You might have a new binder filled with written pieces by family members (or yourself). And you might have a plan (and/or instructions) for where your story legacy should be passed on.
8. You might decide it’s time to write a story – your own story – one page at a time. You can tell the world (or just your family, or just yourself) what you experienced and what you learned. It might turn out to be your greatest legacy.