Photo by Mattisson Francis Voell. Ireland. 2004
Stories link past, present and future in a way that tells us where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.
THE PAST – Pre-Me
Today, technology enables us to explore past generations, like exploring the darkness of the ocean depths, we shine light onto the narratives of our own ancestral characters, exposing our blood line. Scientific advancements like the Genome Project www.genome.gov unlock a tentacled self-awareness, exposing a subconscious healing as we gain an understanding of what, and more importantly, ‘who’ made us who we are.
THE PRESENT – Living Our Story.
I’ve always found the depths of yesterday, the dynamics of today, and the far reaches of tomorrow intriguing. At a friend’s funeral recently, the homilist reminded us that we carry within our nature the reverberations of all who have been companions on our journey. That their character, the good, bad and the ugly, is absorbed into our impressionable psyche, our umbuntu – that “I am who I am because of who you are.”
THE FUTURE – Post-Me
How can we think out into a future, yet unknown to imagine a time when we become the ancestors? We’ve learned that various cultures plan seven generations into the future, yet our present society limits our long term thinking to only three to five years. Can we retrain our minds to think On Beyond Z as Dr. Seuss writes, “There’s no limit to the things you might know, it depends on far beyond zebra you go.”
And what is it that we want to pass on? What within our narrative demonstrates our values? In The Last Lecture, Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch describes his frugal middle class childhood and reminds us that the stuff of life isn’t of any importance and what we truly cherish are the lessons. At 80, Bill, the father of a Legacies client made it his mission to write down his values, knowing that his children were busy living their lives and didn’t have the interest, time or peripheral vision to capture the nuances of living. Bill’s wife Fannie also looked back to imagine forward and penned for posterity how her very full life impacted her family, at least seven generations forward.
Stephen Covey and others before him asked us to “begin with the end in mind.” Covey asks us to write our own obituary before we become “one who has come before”. And finally, a recent favorite from Donald Hall in Essays After 80 "someday, no one will remember, what I remember."
Helping others to write their stories engages many lifetimes. What an honor.
Let’s Get Started ... Before It’s Too Late!
Mary Patricia Voell