”…Healing begins with forgiveness. It can make us whole again. And when we are whole and bathed in God’s light, darkness no longer holds power over us.”
[Select a handful of those things in your bucket list that have the highest chance of coming to fruition given your time frame. In tech speak, this means before your life’s energy goes into ‘low batt mode’ and life has run out of sockets to plug into.]
You gaze at the photos on the walls, dig up the albums in storage boxes – memories of days gone by, milestones — the springtime of one’s life: birthdays, anniversaries, graduations — so many happy, wonderful memories frozen in print. Now you have them too in digital form, thousands of images and videos, trapped in computer hard drives and smart phones or spread far and wide via social media for all to see. Then there are also the awful ones encrusted in your memory, the things you would rather forget. These are your raw materials to get this project going.
So here’s one suggestion to sum it all up while you still can — something you may want to include in the top tier of your bucket list.
Write your story
So many stories to tell… So little time… Though you may think that your life is generic like plain vanilla, if you are honest and dig enough, there are so many tiny montages, vignettes of a past life. Uniquely yours, these may be sweet, sour and even bitter moments of one’s life. Imperfect as it is, you have lived through it all. Somehow, by God’s grace, you made it through. That is victory enough.
A bit of caution! You don’t have to write a tedious, biographical tome, so boring you may induce flat lining even yourself to early death. I would recommend choosing a typical day, a significant year or seasons which reflect the peaks and valleys of your life. You can paint your story in broad brush strokes at first and fill in the details later, like a painter would, with the precision of a palette knife.
Write in your own style. If they block the creative flow, forget grammatical rules, syntax, and the rigid rules for writing, for the time being. It is like recording streams of memories. There is no grading system here. Be honest. One rule I recommend that should apply at all times — REFRAIN from causing even more hurt, if somehow, someone else reads your story when you’re gone.
Believe it or not, the written word is precise and like a laser sword, it can slice a heart or like a soothing miraculous balm, heal brokenness. Choose wisely. How you choose reflects the beauty or ugliness of your soul.
Kindness is a car that can get you to heaven. The Good Samaritan is a case in point. Is it a Pollyana view of life on earth? It sure is. But life can be brutal and in some cases, so cruel we need all the kindness we can get from one another.
Or if you live a relatively charmed life and have a generous spirit, dispense acts of kindness to strangers without fanfare. Someone wise once said to choose those who can never repay you back. No one has to know. If you do it for applause and recognition, then you have cashed in your reward prematurely. Don’t post on social media for all to know. But if you do, remain anonymous. Your act of kindness can go viral and inspire others to do likewise. Focus on the act to squeeze the max out of it.
Memories can be faulty. The way each of us sees things is uniquely processed through a set of largely emotional filters that may not align with how others in our immediate orbit remember them. In story writing, it is called POV or Point of View. Remember that in the eternal scheme of things, only God’s POV knows the pure, unvarnished, unadulterated truth.
Your stories are all there buried deep within you. The early sunset years when you still have a sound mind in a sound body are probably the best time to write your story. Those neurons firing in our noggin are still sharp but we know, these have a definite shelf life.
Don’t do it as an ego trip listing your accomplishments but put pen to paper or chase a cursor like mad on your laptop as an exercise in validating your life, putting into words, those memories that sparkle like diamonds, like the joys that you have caused to make others glad and appreciate life and how others made you a better person.
Accolades are fine but those you leave behind who feel eternally grateful to God for the life you lived as it left a mark on their own lives even when you’re gone are probably the highest tribute to your time on earth.
I guess these are the things that make God smile. You’ll be one of those good and faithful servants. The act of recording your life story reveals to us God’s presence in every minutiae, facet and seasons of our lives. You realize that even in your darkest moments when all seemed lost, God is always there for us all. You begin to see clearly your purpose in life.
Of course, as in any story, there are parts you want to share because they are happy and inspiring. There are parts that must remain secret by choice, known only to you, the God of your being and the characters of those tragic, dark vignettes you would rather forget, locked away forever or better yet, erased for all eternity.
Let go of these, if you can. Healing begins with forgiveness. It can make us whole again. And when we are whole and bathed in God’s light, darkness no longer holds power over us.
Life is a mural of many colors and infinite designs. Savor yours during these precious sunset years. There are so many twists and turns and variations and, if taken in one go, can seem like a blur on a whitewater tube ride. Scoop up a few golden snippets and record them. This could be well worth your while.
Become the writer/editor of your life story. Dare to write it. Edit it. Even critique it, if you wish. Don’t worry about other people’s criticism. You are your own target audience for the time being.
Someday when you’re gone, your story might have the power to inspire someone else.
Next week: An idea for The Bucket List …
Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications, Inc. To send comments, e-mail email@example.com