Leave A Legacy – Here’s How…
Quick question for you.
This odd thought popped into my head when I had Humble the Poet as a guest on London Real, and I knew I had to ask you.
So here goes.
What did you have for breakfast last Tuesday?
Give it a second – go on and think about it.
Can you even remember?
If you’re anything like most people, you have no idea what you ate last week. Heck, you might even have trouble remembering what you did yesterday!
Here’s a different question.
What’s the craziest thing your brother or sister ever did when you were kids?
Maybe your parents left you kids alone in the family station wagon for a minute… and your brother stood up, reached between over the bench seat, and took the emergency brake off… and you slowly rolled backwards into the street… back in 1965.
Or maybe your sister wanted to get the new fluffy hairdo that Farrah Fawcett made popular, so she stayed up late trying your mom’s hot rollers… then she fell asleep and singed a chunk of her hair off… in the 1970s.
Or maybe it’s something else entirely.
Either way, you remember that incident like it just happened minutes ago.
You can remember the feel of the plasticky station wagon seats on the back of your legs and the weird mix of panic and elation you felt when the car was loosed from its bonds and started sliding into traffic…
If you close your eyes, you can still smell the horrible stench of burning hair wafting down the hallway… And the sound of your sister crying when she discovered it… And the hilariously bad haircut she had to get to cover up the damage…
If that’s so firm in your mind, how come you can’t remember what you had for breakfast?
Was it eggs?
Or was it banana bread that day?
You search your memory bank for a few more seconds, and then you admit to yourself…
You have no idea.
Don’t worry. That’s not because you’re losing your touch.
It’s because you experienced the crazy incident with your sibling back in the day…
And then you re-lived it again and again when it was passed around as a hilarious story.
Even if you personally didn’t live through it – let’s say it was something that happened to your Grandpa while he was away fighting in the war.
If you were told the story of his travails and how he overcame them with feats of bravery even once, you probably could recite what happened word for word for the rest of your life.
This Stuff Sticks With You Forever…
Because storytelling is one of the most powerful forces in human existence.
Stories have the power to teach… to uplift… to inspire.
They can quite literally change history…
And they can bring us together in the present like nothing else.
Stories aren’t always just family tales handed down, either.
They can come in the form of a song. Who doesn’t have a story about a time down at the bar when everyone sang, “Don’t Stop Believing” at the top of their lungs? The feeling of being a small town girl or city boy feeling lonely on a night filled with promise is something we can all latch on to.
They can come in the form of a poem. Even if you’re not a poetry fan, The Telltale Heart by Poe probably still sends shivers down your spine.
They can even come in the form of food. Has anyone ever been able to top your grandmother’s blackberry cobbler?
There’s nothing else that can take you back to summertime evenings spent at her kitchen table like that juicy, crusty, buttery cobbler can.
With all the communication flowing around us these days, you think we’d be sick of stories like these. After all, with 35 texts each day, 212 emails stacking up, and a mailbox full of junk ads for carpet cleaning and the local Chinese place, we’re seeing a lot of communication – more than ever before in the history of the world…
But none of it’s sticking. None of those humdrum words intended to entice and persuade you even make a dent in your memory…
On the other hand, you’re still tuning in to your favorite television show.
You’re still downloading old Nelson DeMille books onto your Kindle app so you can read them again.
Hell, you’re probably still following what happens with your hometown football team – even if they haven’t won in years – because you’re invested in their story.
All this is because…
They’re how we learned about the world before writing ever existed. It’s how we teach our children right from wrong, and how we make sense of what goes on in the world around us.
And in a world with a whole lot of noise, and very little meaning, stories are what stick around. Stories were here before us… and they’ll be around long after we’re gone.
I’m curious about something. How are you using stories in your life?
Have you told your kids about your adventures of plotting to steal the school mascot in high school?
Do you go into work and entertain your coworkers with the hilarious story of how your wife tried to take the trash out last week – only to have the bag bust halfway down the driveway?
Do you write any of your memories down to keep for yourself…
And so that others can read them once you’re gone?
Whether you’re a big time extrovert or more of a homebody, your story matters. It matters to you, and it matters to the people that love you.
Stories matter. Yours do, too. Don’t let them slip away untold – share them.
Who knows? The world could be a better place for having heard them.
Editor, Brian Rose Uncensored