Getting Around to Where You’ve Been

Lately,  I’ve had a series of story inquiries from 90-somethings and those who love them. “Hurry,” I think, “before it’s too late,” and then I learn that the potential subjects are more lucid, healthier and readier than most of us to tell their truths. They feel an urgency to explain their accomplishments and choices. Why? Because they finally have the courage to face their own mortality.

In many cases, losing the fear of death leads to losing the fear of life. Living Stories clients have freely explored their abuse, internment, divorce, war service, cancer, alcoholism, poverty, clinical depression, abandonment and many other negative life experiences in full detail through a rear-view mirror. Compassionate listening works magic as it unearths long-buried secrets to interlace with facts, figures, pictures and incidents in an effort to bring a single human life to the page.

People who describe the circumstances others dread and avoid transform themselves by reducing the power of sad memories. Discussing and writing about events and associated feelings enables them to move on without regrets. Often, the story-teller is so euphoric about fully expressing himself that he is incredulous to see how much his story informs and delights others.

It’s easy to procrastinate about telling personal stories, but our dramas are both exclusive to us and familiar to those who will read them. No one lives without joys and pain. The riveting difference is in how each of us has survived. If you live to 90, maybe it will be easier to start, but why assume that you have that much time?

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