The longer I live, the more I realize life is truly about simple ingredients, one of them being:
Isn’t that what we refer back to? Years and experience create a recipe book of memories (fond and unfortunate) which fill us up, and spill over into the stories we share; piano lessons from Paul Ross, how Grandma’s dog smelled, watching Grandpa carve wood birds; thin shavings falling like feathers to the ground. Sentiments of potato chip cookies from The Sweet Life Bakery, building forts, and watching “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” in the dark. Everyday moments of work and play, absorbed into one giant faith journey.
I’m noticing my natural response is to re-live memories from younger years, specifically kindergarten – late elementary. Julian Barnes said, “Memories of childhood were the dreams that stayed with you after you woke.”
Not sure why childhood sticks, but at the forefront, these fond flashes spark:
Digging dirt holes while mom and dad planted roses, specifically the time I talked my brother into eating a worm, Look! A spaghetti noodle. (chuckle, chuckle.)
Summer night swims, June bugs, eating watermelon halves on the swing with dad.
Moving living room furniture along the wall to clear space to “dance.” Amy Grant singing from the record player. On one occasion, I got so “into it” that I pulled off my sweater, swung it ’round and ’round above my head. Flinnnnngggg! into the fireplace, instantly a-flame, and scaring my poor mom to death. Lesson learned: I no longer disrobe while dancing.
There are endless memories of our family biking along the eucalyptus trails to Hurless Barton Park. We’d stop at Frisco’s Deli where Mr. Frisco himself would see-saw the giant metal shaver back-and-forth, thick layers for our turkey and swiss sandwiches.
And I won’t forget the unfortunate times I exuded my independence and chose ten spankings in a row, or got Tabasco on my tongue for telling a classmate I hated her. I apologized often to babysitters for refusing bedtime or not having a “sweet spirit” with my little brother.
Fond and unfortunate- they are memories still. Strong ones worth telling stories about.
Foggy are some memory seasons, while others simmer under the surface until reminded and then told.
Recently, over In-N-Out lunch with the boys, I shared the story of when I rode an elephant in Thailand.
Tanner and Ty were full of wonder and questions.
Was it a mommy or daddy elephant? Were there babies too? Can you ride those? What did its skin feel like? Farther into the story – Wait, they they painted a picture with their trunks? (childhood minds are instantly blown.)
I found myself enthralled with our conversation, enjoying the natural back and forth of words and inquiries from curious boys wanting more stories, more details.
Can we go to Thailand and ride elephants one day? The promise was made and oh-til-the day we’ll venture as a family of four, Bryan riding a “daddy” elephant, me on the “mommy”, and Tanner and Ty on the “babies.”
Hours later, I was still smiling from the enjoyment of storytelling with our sons.
And then the thought, Am I living a life worth storytelling? One that takes in fully the sights, smells, tastes and sounds. Am I scooping handfuls of today so that tomorrow, five years from now, I’ll look back on it as a memory worth sharing? Deeper still, the next layer: What memories stick long enough to story-tell and why?
I shared the idea with my husband. Are we living lives worth storytelling? Our days are not grand, I panicked. It’s the same walk to the same park. The same meals, and same stores we frequent.
Those are the very childhood memories I share; normal moments that when collectively gathered cement into memories worth story-telling.
And those are the memories I’m creating with my boys.
No doubt your everyday moments are shaping memories that will birth treasured, consistently beautiful stories. What are those memories for you? How far back do you go to conjure up memories worth sharing? Childhood? High School? Yesterday? What do you find yourself doing on a regular basis that shape your story?
Stories are worth sharing because the grand moments are sprinkled with relateable breaths of normalcy. Some memories, like elephant riding in Thailand are epic, while others, like grocery shopping, are oh-so normal. Neither is better. Each one essential to this gift of memory making and storytelling.
Should we share when I was five stories? Absolutely! As well as today’s. A life lived intentionally has a fresh story to share come each sunset.
One of the greatest legacy’s we can pass on to our children is the gift of storytelling. I love asking our boys, If I were to close my eyes, how would you describe what’s happening? What unique smells and sounds? What’s within reach or too high to grab? How I pray they’ll soak up awareness of both normal and grand, to communicate the day; seasonal colors, who they laughed with, how high they swung at the playground, how crusty the bread got as it sat on the table. Helping them notice moments, will grow into memories, and later harvest stories, like well-loved recipes.
As long as it doesn’t involve worm-eating 🙂
“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus