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Pass On What You Know

  There is a long held belief that wisdom comes with age.  While I'm not sure it comes just with the passing of time, it may be true that it comes with a multitude of life experiences.  Life experiences come in many forms, through difficulty and triumph, in good times & bad.  The ones that seem to stick with us longer are generally the ones that were harder to learn.  After going through so much effort to learn what we have learned, it would be a tragedy for that knowledge to pass on with us.  While we cannot give another person the actual experience, we can give them the next best thing...the gift of story.  Throughout centuries, people have shared their history, their experience, & their knowledge through story.  It is important for us to continue this tradition, especially in the modern age when there is a temptation for people to think that knowledge is mostly gained through technology.

Think through some of the most important lessons that you've learned in your life.  Prioritize them. What is number one?  Was it learning to stand up for yourself when others were against you?  Was it learning how to deal with the loss of a loved one?  Was it learning how to deal with a child that seemed against you for a time?  If you have 3 or 4 experiences that jump into your mind, write them down.

Next, consider the people that you are surrounded with that may benefit from the knowledge you have to offer.  Family would be an obvious choice for this, as it will be more meaningful for them to know about your experiences if you've been close to them.  If you do not have family that is close geographically or emotionally, think about others that surround your life.  Choose one person to whom you will tell one story in the next couple of weeks.

Think through the details of your story & decide which details to leave out.  We can get bogged down in the details while telling the story.  Try to keep it interesting, but short.  If the person is intrigued, they will ask for more details.  If you are undecided, try writing it out, or recording it as you tell it, then play it back again.  Most smartphones have the option to record your voice.

If there is genuinely no one that you would feel comfortable sharing with, consider writing it out or recording it for future generations to benefit from after you are gone.  Some parts of our story may shed light for our families on our behaviours, & why we feel so strongly about certain subjects.  Oftentimes the things about which we feel strongly are imprinted in us because of a difficult situation.  Maybe you feel strongly about women's rights because we've felt inequality or worse.  Maybe you've dealt with a deep sadness after a child's birth.  Those things may not seem like things to pass on to children, but it can shed light on many things.  Deep sadness after childbirth can help your grand-daughter know that postpartum depression might be genetic, & to seek help as soon as possible.   Maybe you've been prone to drink too much & cause problems for your spouse or others.  This can help future generations in your family to fit together pieces of family health history & to know what to look for so that they can avoid similar pitfalls.

While you are passing on tough lessons learned, also be sure to share light stories of beautiful times in your life.  Share about your courtship with your spouse, about your first car or your favorite car, share the secret of your recipes, share where you've stashed meaningful letters & mementos.  Though they are your experiences & your stories, they eventually become a part of your family's collective history when you share them.  When we have shared history, we also have a very important part of emotional stability...a sense of belonging.    Give that as a gift to those you love, you won't regret it!

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