The greatest art in the world is the art of storytelling. ~ Cecil B. DeMille
When I encourage people to write down their stories the usual replies are:
- My life is nothing special
- I haven’t done anything worth writing about
- No one would be interested, who would read them?
In 1874 a young man kept a day planner. In it he recorded the weather and something he did that day, like picking cotton, going to the cotton gin, or sitting up with a sick friend. He wrote about going to church or eating supper with family. If someone had told him his scribblings would one day be treasured, he would have thought that person was nuts. When 1875 rolled around, he threw his the 1874 planner in the drawer. Over the years the little planner was passed on until it landed in the hands of his great-granddaughter in 2010. She opened it and ran her finger over his writing while reverently reading what he had to say. This was her touching point, her connection, with a long-dead relative. To her, it wasn’t day-to-day ramblings. It was a treasure.
That great-granddaughter is me.
Writer Page Lambert once said, “We cannot change the pain of our past, but we can give health to the future.” We can do this through writing. The difference between what my great-grandfather did and what I do is writing with purpose. Writing to give health to the future. And good news! You don’t have to be a writer to do this. Just tell your stories.
- Mistakes you made, what you learned from them, and how you overcame.
- Influential people in your life, why they are influential, how they have inspired you
- Your observations and epiphanies from the historic events that have taken place in your lifetime. Things that have changed or influenced the way we live in the USA, or even the world. Natural disasters, the social media explosion, or modern inventions.
- Memories made or lessons that can be taken from your hobbies.
You may not think anyone will be interested. But from experience let me say, yes, your stories will be treasured. They are threads in the fabric of humanity.
Your stories matter.
Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. ~ Robert Brault
I remember visiting my grandmother, Cladie Mae Leslie, in Durant, Mississippi. She taught me how to shell purple hull peas and speckled butter beans. What a thrill it gave my child’s heart to discover purple splotches on the creamy white flesh of the beans. How I loved sitting with her on the porch swing on warm summer evenings, swaying back and forth while listening to the rise and fall of cicada and tree frog song. Magnolia blooms perfumed the humid night air. It was a little thing.
In Jackson, Mississippi, the first thing my grandmother, Molly Belle Lowe, would do when I arrived for a visit was to bundle me up and take me to the grocery store. There I could buy anything I wanted to eat during my stay. She taught me to love flowers and trees. I helped her water her gardens. My favorite was her mint patch because the refreshing tang of mint exploded when the spray hit it. I helped her pick figs and after supper we’d enjoy them with sugar and cream. It was a little thing.
At least two weekends a month we visited Granny and Grandaddy Diehl’s farm in Vilonia, AR. Granny let me pet her chickens and gather eggs. Grandaddy encouraged me to help him in his garden, only truth be known? I probably made more work for him. At five in the morning I followed him to the barn to milk the cows. He wore striped overalls and heavy work boots. I wore shorts and flip-flops. I can still feel the cold, dew-covered goose grass slapping my bare legs on the way to the barn. While he milked I hunted for nests of kittens in the hayloft. It was a little thing.
Now that I’m in my early sixties, I look back and realize these experiences were actually big things because they made me who I am today. When I pick up my grandchildren we visit the grocery for treats during their stay. We sit on my porch in the evenings, petting my cats and listening to the frog and night bug’s song. We shell peas or speckled butter beans together and they excitedly exclaim when they find a purple splotched one. They pick fruit from my garden and make cobbler with their grandfather. We visit my hens and after giving them a good petting, the grands gather eggs.
These are small moments in their lives. Time spent together. Little things. But when they are in their sixties, they will realize, just as I did, how big they actually were.