Marianne Bailey May 25, 2023
Marianne Bailey Apr 30, 2023
In the last article, we covered three benefits specifically related to interviewing your elders, which were education, connection, and appreciation. I felt as though one of these deserved a deeper dive, and that’s what we’re going to discuss today—the fact that everyone has a story worth sharing.
If you’ve been following along with this series of articles, you’ve endlessly heard me reference Uncle Al, his war stories, his patriotism, and how much love and respect, and admiration our family has for him. And though he deserves every bit of that, I want to address the elephant in the room. Not everyone served in World War 2. Not everyone is an American war hero. Not everyone accomplishes great feats that the world hears about for generations. More than likely, you, your parents, your grandparents—we all might statistically fall into that category of “common” people who don’t land in history books or on the cover of Time Magazine or on TV with Oprah. I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but I know in America, there is a huge pressure to be the best, accomplish great things, become famous, save the world, be a hero, get rich, and endless more superlatives. It might be easy to think that because you didn’t do those things, your stories somehow matter less.
Please don’t ever think that again.
I’ve been a storyteller my whole life, and I pay attention to the little plot twists, obstacles, villains, and every aspect of my personal hero’s journey. I also observe it constantly in other people’s lives when they tell me their stories. Everyone is on their own personal hero’s journey, rising and falling, overcoming and succumbing to setbacks, learning and growing from mistakes. It would be a disservice to yourself and everyone who could benefit from your story to believe your ups and downs matter less than someone else’s. I truly believe every person on the earth has a memory worth recounting—whether it’s one story that was significant to you, something you learned, a moment that changed your perception, or a lifetime of memories.
A memory or thought or experience you had might seem insignificant to you, but to someone else, it could be a revelation. Imagine if people a hundred years from now could hear us talk about our lives now: the big things like pandemics and politics and wars, the day-to-day like our jobs and movies and books we enjoyed, and the seemingly mundane details like if we had TVs or toasters or drove to work or how much we paid for a drink at Starbucks. Those details might not seem like “memories,” in the traditional sense, but what if TVs or toasters don’t exist as we know them in a hundred years and the fact that you owned one is utterly fascinating to them? What if a war happening now is still happening then, or if two nations currently at war are allies in the future? Or if your favorite book or movie inspires your great-great-great-great grandchild to experience it too? We can’t know what will happen in the future, but I know I’m fascinated by the fact that my Aunt Bev’s father rode to work on a horse, and they didn’t have indoor plumbing—both of which were probably “mundane details” to her at the time. Try opening your eyes to what might not feel significant, but actually could be.
There are so many kinds of memories—the kind that entertains, the kind that educates, the kind we learn lessons from, the kind that is ten seconds long, and the kind that stretches on for days. If you can’t think of a single memory worth recording for your family or for posterity, I want you to email me, and I will personally help you find something (actually, probably a lot of things) to record. I hope I can also help you see how valuable your memories and experiences are, and that we shouldn’t just let them fade into oblivion when we leave this world.
Stay tuned for Part 11, where we’ll talk about the importance of not waiting to document your memories. Or, if you’d like to read this series from the beginning, click here for Part 1.