We were hanging out with neighbors the other day and our hostess shared a couple of new items hanging on her wall. One is a picture of her dad; the other a plaque he received. We chatted a bit about him and how he was an aviation pioneer. I asked her if she’d written down the story she shared. She hadn’t.
That got a group of us talking about memories. We laughed about the way we used to share vacation stories: when a family got home from an exciting trip, they would drop their film off at the Fotomat for developing. A week or two later, they’d invite friends over to share the photos and memories over cocktails and barbeque.
I pointed out even then we didn’t write down our tales. How will we remember the details? How will anyone know of our exploits? I pontificated that a thousand or even two thousand years ago, someone picked up a chisel and carved stories into rock or scrawled images on the walls of caves. Those are all we know of eras that are long gone. Greg is responsible for the National Weather Service’s heritage website. He often says “history is what’s written down.” You can’t go back and talk to people once they’ve passed on.
As a blogger, I write all kinds of stuff down. You, my readers, see some of my musings, but I can’t bring myself to publish it all. I can’t imagine that some of what runs through my brain and trickles down to my fingers and onto a keyboard to be captured digitally is worth publication. Yet I still take the time to “write” it down.
I don’t write essays. I still cringe at the idea of school writing assignments. I just write down my thoughts and file them away. Do you? How many people actually take the time to capture a memory or a thought? We used to write in our diaries or journals, and send letters … occasionally lengthy tomes … to friends. Those were the days when long-distance calls were expensive compared to the (then) low cost of a stamp. Letters in the mail were treasured gifts to be saved and read over and over.
Now a quick selfie posted on social media suffices. Our thoughts are images, shared memes and Facebook posts. Substance has been replaced with brief “touchpoints.” Realistically, when is the last time you sat down, device-free, and had a real face-to-face conversation?
The next time you take a trip and come home with your phone’s memory bursting with amazing images and selfies and panoramas, take a minute (or 10) and plop them into a folder. Write down a few thoughts and memories of the trip: What made you laugh? What surprised you? What made you catch your breath? Share it with your mom or best friend … like a letter.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. Write it down, and share your adventures with friends and family.
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