Is your life a story others would want to hear?
It’s always hard–living in the now–to think of your life as history being written. Journalists (my training) say the news is history written daily. In the last 50 years or more, we have been re-inventing how we look at history and what is worthwhile to record. History is no longer just what some used to cynically say: “History is written by the winners.”
Social historians, ethnologists, activists of all stripes, and others began looking at the history of women, unionization, the poor, people of colour, and other marginalized folks to record the largely untold parts of the human narrative.
As the population grew more literate, growing numbers of people also began to think they had something to say of value. In Victoria, B.C., where 25% of income in the city is derived from retirement pensions, numerous residents are looking back at their lives and thinking about writing their memoirs, or actually writing them. Sometimes it is to leave a family legacy. Sometimes it is to think through parts of their lives, or for creative expression, or in hopes of making money. Some people I’ve met feel they have important knowledge to leave about wartime, or immigration, or spiritual journeys, or their leadership role in a changing national organization. One large church ran a successful book project to interview and record the lives of its 75-years-old and up elders.
Let’s applaud them all. It is damned hard to write a book. Or rather, it is not the writing that is hard, it is the thinking–to gain perspective on a life, a period of time, an event or struggle. That is what creates a story others want to hear.
Some of my best days lead me to adjust the narrative arc I see in my own life. How about you?