Tear stained diaries, tape crusted scrapbooks, grainy super 8 movies, color faded slideshows, memories shared around the card table as the family played Rummy and Crazy Eights, when I was a kid this is how we passed along our stories. You know the ones – of the uncle who always had a joke to crack, victories on football field and basketball courts, schoolyard antics, aches of the heart.
Stories once captured so precisely on film have now become digitized, cataloged and shared virtually for the world to see. We become voyeurs by tuning into reality television where every move becomes scrutinized and manipulated through editing and placement. Every second one hour of video is uploaded to YouTube! We create timelines on Facebook, upload photos to photoshare accounts, create one-off books from our photos, create online journals (yes, hello bloggers). New businesses and tools are being invented every day to help us document our life story. We have turned storytelling into a bankable business that feeds on our ego.
From the 1950s through the late 1980s there was a television show in the U.S. and in UK called “This is your life” and it was spectacular! Friends, family, colleagues from around the globe would gather, physically in one place, to celebrate the life of one man, one woman just for one night. We now call this the Roast, and for me it’s lost all the charm and magic of its origins. No longer is it a celebration of achievement, connected lives and shared experiences, it’s now more a vehicle for ratings, advertising dollars and marketing strategy.
Tonight I stumbled upon a set of YouTube videos from a UK episode from This is Your Life celebrating the life of Phil Collins. Filmed nearly a quarter of a century ago, it feels charming and nostalgic. These are the days when women sported shoulder pads, Richard Branson was merely a record mogul and Princess Diana was raising two handsome young princes. TV executives have tried to bring back the hook and contemporize it, but it’s backfired for over 20 years. We simply can no longer keep up with the speed of change to make a TV show like that once again relevant. We must create new ways to capturing the story, make it immediate and make it meaningful.
Today I flipped through the pages of my own scrapbooks, selecting photos, reliving college memories, jotting down notes as images trigger feelings of pure joy, longing, passion. I found drawings sketched from patience and a love of art. I discovered scraps of paper with remnants of the sights, smells, tastes and feelings of their last moments in hand. Today I created a path to remembering my life, the dreams I lived and lost, the people who touched me and in turn I touched, and the hope I cling to for more of both to enter my life.
So today, before you sip that next cup of coffee, plan the next agenda or lay your head upon your pillow, find a remnant from your past, close your eyes and capture in hand the feelings of that moment once again. Own it. Celebrate it. Be courageous. Be bold. Be filled with gratitude. But mostly remember who you are in that moment, and honor it for it has carried you across time and space to today.