My dad asked me the other day why I had so many empty journals. I like to write, hence why I like blogging, yet I leave so many journals completely empty. My immediate answer was that I liked to collect them. I liked finding pretty ones, or ones with witty sayings, and then putting them on my bookshelf for later. But a couple hours later I felt the question creep back into my mind. Why did they sit there empty? Why didn’t I fill their pages with my thoughts, or quotes, or whatever else I felt like putting down on paper? I mulled it over for quite awhile. And after about a week an answer hit me: I leave them empty because I hope that one day I will have enough stories to fill every page. I hope that I will one day I have a love story so deep and intense it fills an entire book. I hope one day I am rid of my medical problems so miraculously that I have no choice but to put pen to paper. I hope that my experiences turn to wisdom, and I can write that wisdom down for those that I leave behind. I hope that by the time I die, I will have filled every last page. And that it will mean that I lived.
My dads response:
Our lives, like the stories they tell, are more about the journey than the destination. The concept of “then I lived” is a false premise. You do live and you are living, in the present. Disrespecting that by minimizing its importance and impact is to invalidate the lessons learned, the struggles won and lost and the true life that was led.
Don’t wait to write your stories. Write them everyday. Write them in excruciating detail in vivid color in all their glory or horror. Only then will you truly live them, learn from them and have an amazing story to tell.
Waiting to write your story also blurs the details as memories fade. You can always discard parts that aren’t important to your final story, but until you have experienced them, written them and re-written them in word or action, you won’t know their importance to the narrative.
Not doing that allows you (and others) to rewrite the stories to fit what may be a false narrative without the clarity provided by immediately providing a point of recollection.
As I look back at my life, I recall some advice I received but did not follow. It was meant to help me in my career, but can absolutely pertain to life in general. That advice was “write down everything you do, everyone you meet no matter how insignificant you think it/ they may be. It will help you develop a strong resume and network of contacts that will drive your future. Needless to say I didn’t do it and wish I had.
Truth be told, your mom and I have really had an outstanding life. We have done some amazing things, met some amazing people. We’ve met some real bastards and royally screwed up some things. All of it is important. They make us who we are. They allow us to make better decisions everyday. They have kept us sane in an insane world and taught us the lessons we needed to endure and overcome the challenges that have come our way. We’ve had more than our share and we keep our heads up, our values in tact and look to our future with smiles on our faces. I really wish I had made stronger note of those experiences. Maybe I can recreate them with the help of each other and those around us.
Your story is an amazing one and one that is being written now with or without you. Take control of it and fill every page with every last gory detail and glorious prose.