This New Year's Eve I spent with my family and another family-- four adults, two teens and a ten-year-old. Our dinner of black-eyed-peas and collards was the perfect meal after a long day of skiing. After dinner we all wrote down things we wanted to purge in 2018-- grudges, bad habits, dysfunctional patterns. The plan was to share these with our little community so we could have support in letting go of these things and staying on course in the new year. The final action would be burning papers in the fire pit on the front patio of our rental house.
In addition to the things we wanted to let go of, we also wrote down things we wanted to do more of in 2018. Among mine were eating less sugar and assuming best intentions of people in my life. Bea, the ten-year-old, wrote, "Tell more stories." This struck me as profound for many reasons. What does that mean? To tell more stories. Is it to share what happened at school during dinner with the family? Is it making up a fairy tale before bedtime?
Bea is a very articulate, incredibly creative ten-year-old and she tells amazing stories. I've tried to remember myself at that age, in the era of much less technology, a time when we spent so much more time talking to each other than talking to our phones and laptops. Sometimes before bed my daughter Lucia will ask me to tell a story of my childhood and I struggle to conjure one. I have a hard time recalling in detail how I was forty years ago, but I do remember how my sisters and I would make up scenarios all the time: imagining that we were the proprietors of a grocery store or the managers of a hotel, or movie stars or veterinarians or olympic swimmers.
I worry a lot about how technology is changing our world, how it is hindering the creativity and imagination of my child, but maybe I'm worrying unnecessarily. This morning Bea's older sister shared a virtual story of our family ski trip complete with photos, videos and a pop music soundtrack. It's a different kind of story, but it's still a story. It's creative and beautiful and it highlights the wonderful time our families shared.
I remember when my grandmother was 94, trying to explain email to her. I remember showing her pictures on my laptop seeing the wonder in her face. This year I will turn 50. I got my AARP membership card in the mail yesterday. I'm getting older and the world around me is changing. But there are still stories. We might tell them differently now, but there are still here. There will always be stories to tell.