Written by: Gael Gilliland
“Your written legacy.”
Those are powerful words. What comes to mind first?
Maybe you thought of beginning your memoirs. In its purest form, a memoir is gritty, hard to write, and nearly impossible to execute well. It is not something I would encourage everyone try to do alone.
This of course leaves us with a back-to-basics and simple book, about you.
Books give people the opportunity to hold you in their hands. Just imagine a time when you are gone, and all that’s left is the book you wrote in 2016 about your life. The pages are filled with curated collections of photographs and narratives about each one. The reader is transported to another time and given a glimpse into what life was like during your lifetime.
That book, the one about you, the real you, will be worth reading and worth passing on.
I know how important it is to take time now and write your story. I can tell you from personal experience that tomorrow might not come. There may never be a “perfect” time to tell your loved ones the hard parts of your life. You may even believe they don’t want to hear about your life.
But every experience that made you who you are today, is worth sharing and remembering.
Why do you need to start writing your story today?
1. You will forget
At some point your memories will begin to fade, whether from disease or old age. It will happen. It isn’t an uncertainty, it is a fact of life right now.
Now is your time to record your memories. Write, audio record, or video record your experiences, the story of how you got where you are, and what your perspective is on life, before everything fades away.
Each day, valuable voices are silenced and lost forever. Don’t let your voice be lost.
2. Happy Historians
Leave future historians something to get excited about. Historians salivate over first person accounts and stories about family life.
These are irrefutable documents to illustrate how you lived and how you loved. Leave your story the way you want it to be told. Don’t let the history writers gloss over your life and forget the impact you left on your friends and family.
Historical records are, by definition, written narratives or accounts of the time period. Create your own historical record by leaving your written legacy.
Leave your own mark on the page of history and create a legacy that will last beyond your lifetime.
3. Because it’s important
This may sound simple and basic, but it’s the truth.
Acknowledge that your voice has value and needs to be heard. Every story is important no matter how insignificant it may seem to you.
Future generations need the benefit of your wisdom, knowledge, and insight. I encourage you to look introspectively into your life and find your moments. Record everything, the big moments, the small moments, and the everyday moments that make up your life.
There you have it! Why I think you need to leave your written legacy.
Now go and get started already!
Gael Gilliland works to support more people in documenting the people, experiences and stories of their lives. The highlights, the low points and the seemingly mundane moments that combine to create a lifetime. Giving elders and young people alike the confidence to share their voice. You can learn more about her work here.
About the photos: Top is a picture of Patrick & Ann Connolly in 1983 when they first started dating. Bottom photo is Patrick & Ann Connolly in 2005 during one of their last big adventures. White water rafting through the Grand Canyon with four generations of family for 21 days. Pat will pass on 6 months after this trip. Story photo is a memorial ribbon on a door in Northern Ireland.