A while back, I took a good long look at our book shelves. I was planning a renovation of sorts because I was running out of room for photo albums. Then it dawned on me: Smaller books would mean less need for shelf-space. What if I replaced the albums with something smaller? So, I dialed in the renovation lens and focused on my collection of stories instead of the shelves.
Not long after, I had a new plan with the following goals:
- Replace my 12x12 albums with 8x10 photo books (for ease of use and more efficient storage).
- Get rid of some stories, but in a kind way that would involve reflection and letting go.
- Have another go (or two) at some of them, to give the storyteller I've become a chance at it all.
- Create more of my own artwork because that's become a central part of the hobby for me.
Here's the surprise: Through the project I'm not just reflecting on storytelling techniques, but on our lives and the journey so far. There are so many feelings and thoughts packed into the old stories—feelings and thoughts that may be invisible to anyone else, but me.
For example, when I look at one of the older stories of Duncan, the surface story is obvious, but a deeper one is hidden. The feelings and thoughts attached to the original vignette have to do with worry. At the time, his collection of first words was very small. An obvious speech delay, along with compulsions to arrange and spin things (like balls, tops, and other toys), had us wondering what kinds of challenges lay waiting for him in his future. And, when I reflect on photos of him and our lives back then, knowing now what awaited him while feeling the twinge of sorrow over anticipated struggles from the old feelings...well, it's a great reminder of the what we're all capable of, how much love we share, and that we're pretty good at figuring things out together. It's also a reminder that while some worries become realities, others don't, and either way we'll be all right.
So now I can't help but believe that memory keeping is one of the many paths we can take towards living a good life and living it well.