Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Cleveland

Memories Matter

Of all the proverbial wisdom that has been floating around forever, "You can't tell a book by its cover," is one that I particularly like. Though venerable and overused, it is nonetheless a simple term that makes absolute sense. It concisely states that our outer persona or "cover" is not a true representation of the unknown essence within. As inevitable as it is that we will lose a little something physically during the aging process - our covers becoming slightly faded and worn what is stored inside is a vibrancy and quality of thought that surpasses those who are decades younger.

Our lives are packed full of personal experiences that we process in our own unique way. From our earliest memories to the present, we unconsciously file away a collection of thoughts and impressions in our internal library.

Taking this library allegory a little further, imagine that our internal library or memory consists of three floors. The first floor might incorporate all of our formal education, all of the years that we have spent sitting at a desk in academia learning numbers, historical data, government, grammar, the whole reading, writing, and 'rithmatic thing. Climb up to floor number two, and the volumes there contain knowledge that we have taught ourselves including work experience, non-assigned or non-essential reading, and things of interest. The very top level contains those great volumes that represent years of living our experiences, insights, traditions, and life impressions. Contributions are constantly made to at least one or two of these levels with new information relegating the older data to back shelves. This older data, though accessed less and less and nearly forgotten, is at our disposal when we take the time and effort to locate it.

So why do memories matter? Most of us are convinced that our childhood experiences in the early-mid 20th century are pretty irrelevant to the younger members of our family. And why would our kids care about how we managed to survive boot camp before being shipped off to who-knows-where? Don't be fooled they will. Our experiences are a major part of our legacy. Our experiences are family history.

There is a solution, and it doesn't involve tying your children or grandchildren down for hours to listen to your biographical oratory. The very best way to share and preserve memories completely and accurately is by recording them in some form.

Setting aside a small portion of the day to jot down your memoirs might seem an unnecessary bother, but like any new endeavor it soon turns into an enjoyable exercise. Keeping a daily journal is also an effective way of recording fresh experiences. The writing process might help you to locate some of those old memory volumes pushed against the corner of your virtual library. If writing isn't one of your strengths, or you are physically unable to write, then try recording your stories. Micro recorders are affordable and available as either digital or with cassette tapes. There are also professionals who can help record, collate, and publish your personal history.

The point is, it doesn't matter how or in what form your personal experiences are recorded what matters is that they will not be lost to future generations. This collection of personal data is your gift to them. It is their heritage; it is your legacy.

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