Age after age, through generation after generation, all round the world, elders have recounted family stories. In some cultures important stories were learned by rote and handed down as treasured gifts that taught each new generation what people could aspire to, and how they should strive to live their lives.
In our society today, the extended family no longer sits down and shares stories from the past. The majority of families are scattered and elders denied that opportunity.
At my sister-in-law's recent celebration of a milestone birthday where numerous octogenarians were gathered with family members, fascinating stories of past times abounded. In awe and silence I listened to witty renditions following one after the other. As the audience swelled I noticed a sense of companionship growing as the listeners aligned their experiences with those of the raconteur.
I mused, 'What a pity,' as I listened spellbound. 'These historical events and reminiscences will all fade unless they are recorded.'
After the chatter had died, one of the women sidled up to me, said, "I've read your book."
"Which one?" I asked.
"Footprints in the Sands of Time. I've got heaps like those stories to tell, but don't know where to start."
"I was fascinated by your stories. Why not write them down.
"Mmmmm," she said. "I get a piece of paper and pen and stare at the blank page but nothing comes."
"There is no right or wrong way to shape your story. It’s just another way of conducting a conversation. Rely upon your own experience and feelings. Decide which ones you wish to hand on."
"I'll think on," she said, moved off and added as a throwaway, "My stories are not that important."
Such a remark highlights the danger in this age of experts and information that we may start to believe that the colour and content of our personal experiences are trivial. That is not so. There are worlds of meaning and wisdom in social history. Nothing should keep us from telling our stories because they belong to us and those we love.