This weekend, I finally completed a project that I’ve been working on for a long time. I finished transcribing the autobiography of one of my great-aunts.
For her ninetieth birthday, I sent her a tape recorder and told her to just talk. She did, for hours.
My aunt grew up in the Depression, went to a one room schoolhouse, joined the Navy, had her tonsils out without anesthetic, helped run a dairy farm, and a whole lot more. As I listened, I found myself not wanting to type, but just listen. Every now and then, she would use some vocabulary word that would be foreign to me, so I’d have to look up something like a “Burroghs Bookkeeping Machine” to make sure I had the correct spelling. But that inevitably led to me reading about this completely obsolete machine that I would have no idea how to use.
It struck me as I listened that some memories had attached themselves to her mind with no particular rhyme or reason. It wasn’t that the details were especially important, they had just stuck with her.
That’s the thing about living. You never know what tiny thing will happen today that will lodge itself in your memory. Today will probably be a very ordinary day; you don’t expect to tell your grandkids or nephews and nieces about it. But something that happens today could still make it into your autobiography. You never really know when you are living one of those memorable moments.
Yes, you never really know when you are living a memorable moment, but you put a bunch of those little moments all together, and suddenly, you have led a fascinating life. Nine decades are condensed into fifty pages, and it becomes something worth remembering. It becomes something your relatives want to preserve.
I suppose that we all want to be remembered, but I’m not so sure that as many of us are willing to do the work to live lives that are worth remembering.
Maybe we change that today. Today will probably be an ordinary Monday. But you never know. You just might have an opportunity to tell someone about what happened today, a few decades from now.