From the Queen’s Coronation to My Grandma’s Biscuit Tin
Your life story means something to someone
Everyone has a story to tell and, yes, yours is every bit as interesting as anything you’ll find on the shelf in your nearest bookshop.
Your life story is shaped by your experiences, your memories and your own stamp on social history. Look at any historical event; people witness these together and retell the story from their point of view. This is the fascinating truth.
Think how many millions of people would recount the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II differently. Alternative versions of the story would be told by a person who was there amongst the crowds, by the family who rushed out to purchase a TV set just for the occasion or even by the Canadian citizen watching the film that had been flown over the Atlantic by the RAF (a story in itself!).
Your life story, those hard-learned lessons, and experiences that sculpted the person you are today, all of which describe your legacy, is important. You might be thinking “Who would be interested in my life?” You may think no-one or perhaps only you would want to read about it, but have you ever told a story and observed all the while your audience hanging onto every word? Have they ever laughed when you laughed or cried when you cried? There is always an audience for your story, the audience who will hear, read, and feel your words, transfixed by them.
There are so many stories about our lives that our families have never heard, and those little details that can surprise and stupefy. I once learned that my great-grandmother effectively rendered my grandma an orphan by giving her up as an infant, only for Grandma to later be found and raised by the family’s matriarchal Great-aunt Olive instead. How did my grandma comment when I asked her about this? “I wasn’t too fussed, Mother did have a terrible habit of entering people’s marriages and running off with their husbands, anyway.” Thanks, Great-grandma!
The fact of it is, these stories are lost in time if nobody undertakes the task of committing them to a tangible/written life story. I simply can’t have a conversation with Grandma any more about how she has always been a little bit psychic over a muddy tea and slightly off-brand biscuits from her enigmatic biscuit tin. Honestly, I miss listening to her stories and I stupidly never thought to write any of them down.
Perhaps the most important benefit of retelling your own life story is the genuine chance to just look back at everything and see what you made of it all. Your life story when realised is never the end, it’s your story so far and it’s a brilliant one to boot.
-Tom Harnett, LifeBook Project Manager –