Re-printed from the LM Style Newsletter - 3-27-09
Mirriam Webster defines "day" as "the mean solar day of 24 hours beginning at mean midnight." Your “every” day seems routine - day in and day out, but for minor changes, the 24 hours appear to follow a basic pattern that feels, well, unremarkable. But, think back to yourself - 5, 10, 15 years ago. What was your day like then? I can bet - it was different. Significantly so. With each "day" providing an amazing snapshot of who you are at that point in your life, where you are, what your likes/dislikes are, etc. I challenge you. Can YOU recreate a day from fifteen years ago? The fact is we always think we will never forget – until that day life takes over, and we do.
I came to America at the age of 4. We had 3 wooden trunks that carried the entirety of our wordly possessions, which was not a whole lot of stuff, after decades of displacement and loss caused by a world war, a civil war, the aftermath where both my paternal and maternal grandparents lost significant amounts of their "things," and eventually, their lives, orphaning their children. And having lived through the trauma of the wars, the material deprivation, and then the loss of their parents, my parents have only bits of memories of a life they once knew. How often I longed for anything that could show us - just a bit - pictures of the every day - what was life like? Who were they? And where did we come from, before an entire ocean brought us to an entirely new place, new language, new culture? And how can I make sure my children know that part of their heritage?
I never knew what my parents went through, until in college, my professor assigned us to write our own histories for our senior thesis. I went back and painstakingly recreated many "days" in an attempt to figure it all out – geneology in a historical context. In the process, I learned so much, and for the first time, really understood where I came from, and what my parents have experienced and gone through to get my sister and I to our life today. In that exercise, I found me - and I found them.... I consider this to be one of the most life-changing tasks that I have ever undertaken, so crucial to helping me have a foundation to be comfortable with who I am. And even now, when I look back and evaluate where I’ve come in the most recent 5, 10, 15 years, it helps guide me in where I want to go.
And I submit - taking the time out to document your solar day from time to time will be invaluable one day to someone. Maybe it will be you? That time when it all felt so difficult - to look back in 5 years to realize not only did you persevere, you are so much happier and it was all good in the end. Maybe it will be descendants, who, in the mean time, may have moved across the country, or even to another country, trying to figure out who they are? Maybe it will be a great-grandchild one day, lost in a sea of confusion and isolation, only to see in your everyday details hints of who THEY are, and in the process, where they came from. Mundane? Never. Your collections of days are as interesting and telling as any blockbuster novel - they will tell your story one day. And that, my friends, I submit is an amazing gift to your descendants, and to the world. So, I challenge you to take the time to document a day. Do it periodically. Create a layout to give your story dimension and context. Create many of these. Tell your story.