Look backward to render your eyes more fit to look forward.
Memories are a kind of personal history. But without reflection, the history of our lives is just a string of incidents connected by the passage of time. Like salmon swimming upstream, we get so immersed in the business and busyness of life we don't see how the circumstances we encountered and the choices we made became a story with a plot and a point. So let your reflections become a story of how the things that mattered most in the past led you to what matters now and in the future.
How do you find the story of your life? Use your Things that Matter Scrapbook to write a memoir. It will help you identify what mattered in the past and thereby what is likely to matter today and tomorrow. Your memoir will create a mirror that reflects how life changed you. It's connecting the dots between yesterday and today to reveal a path into tomorrow.
Everybody has a story to tell: children, teenagers, young adults, middle aged men and women, seniors—even an unborn child. So don't wait until you are older. Start transforming memories into memoirs now. Start a diary. Ask family members to tell you about their lives. Imagine the satisfaction of saying, years later, "I'm so glad I asked grandpa about his career in the Navy."
My son's death made me take a long look at what his life meant to me. And that made me take a long look at my own life. Being a writer, I began transforming memories into memoirs and found that I couldn't isolate my present from what I was discovering in my past. And that changed my future. If you're not a writer, you'll be happy to hear that writing skills are less important than telling your stories in your own way.
"Writing is like a trek into the wilderness." wrote Kilroy Oldster, "Every sentence takes the writer deeper into the jungle of his mind." His comment reminds me of the day when one of my cycling friends told me that his mind was like a dangerous neighborhood. "I don't go in there alone, Billy, and never after sundown!"
So it might feel like your mind is a jungle or a dangerous neighborhood when you begin transforming thoughts into sentences. But persevere, because writing is a powerful way to unlock the door to yesterday. Writing is just talking on paper about things that matter. Every sentence you write will move you closer to things that matter most. And you'll be surprised to learn that you didn't know what you thought or how you felt until you saw what you said.
So plumb the emotional depths of a powerful memory. Transform a powerful memory into a compelling story. Let the worst and best things in your life, your passion and your prejudice, slam the page like a lightning bolt. Let your memoir become something you didn't start with when you began putting sentences together. Something over flowing with the powerful, poignant drama of discovering yesterday in the rear-view mirror of today. Something that blooms beyond a mere sum of its parts.
Alice discovered a Wonderland by following a rabbit down its hole and Dorothy discovered a Wizard by following the yellow brick road. Both came back changed, and you will too, by following a vivid memory into yesterday. Revisit the heroes of your life. One of them is you. It's an adventure and a hero's journey. So let the adventure begin. Sail the seven seas of yesterday and return with ways to weave your past into your future.