Why? Making the Case for Life Stories
The Why Questions:
Q: Why do life stories have value in today's world?
Q: Why are life stories essential in each person's legacy planning/estate planning?
Q: Why can't I just use social media to write stories in an email or a blog, and rely on electronic files to preserve life stories?
Q: Why Me? Why should I preserve my life stories?
Q: Why should I preserve my own life stories?
Also heard: Who would be interested in my life stories? Life stories are only for famous people and I am just an ordinary person.
Q: Why Now? Why should I spend time and energy now?
Other Variations: I'm too young for this, I'm too old for this, I'm too busy for this.
Pacific NW Life Stories Responses:
R: Tangible/Intangible Assets= Life stories can be preserved as tangible products, such as audio-recordings and written documents. Life stories are also intangible, since stories are carried in your heart, mind and soul. These stories are personal assets as they bring courage, comfort and connection with people in the past and in the future.
Value= If you received a life story from a family member, would you judge it to be significant, important and valuable to you?
Price= If you were asked to place a monetary price on the life story of a family member, would you have difficulty assigning a price or replacement value? Is the value beyond price?
R: You may have legal documents and estate planning documents such as a will and power of attorney. Yet, have you considered how you will pass on your life values, lessons and stories to your loved ones?
Life stories connect family members, and strengthen connections between different generations. Younger family members who know and understand the life stories of older family members are more responsible stewards of family wealth.
Life stories are most important to individuals in two generations: the baby boomer generation and "The Greatest Generation."
Fact: 86% of Boomers (Ages 47-66) and 74% of Elders (Ages 72+) ranked family stories as highest in importance compared to the rankings given to personal possessions or financial assets.
Source: The Allianz Legacies Pulse Survey, 2012.
R: In our time of history when the focus is often on "Fast" and "Temporary", life stories offer an alternative of "Slow" and "Permanent".
Slow= A life story interview offers time for the client (and the interviewer) to slow down from the fast pace of life. The client is able to reflect on thoughts and feelings, search for insights and uncover meaning in experiences. Finding perspective and wisdom can't be hurried; it takes time.
For the listener, an audio-recorded interview offers a direct sensory and imaginative experience through hearing the human voice. The emotional power of the human voice taps into our own memories. As a result, the listening experience feels interactive.
Permanent= Preservation of life stories in a written paper document or book offers a greater chance of permanence over time, as compared with electronic/digital mediums. Although computer hardware and software applications may change, you recognize that in the future, people will be able to hold your story as a physical object and read the words on the paper. The selection of archivally-safe materials and storage conditions for your life stories increases their chances still further of surviving into the future.
Your life stories are time travelers, because they can travel forward in time beyond your lifetime.
R: Who= If you don't preserve your life stories, who will do this? Although someone else may gather the stories they remember about you, you are the expert because you lived through the life experiences in the stories.
R: Significance to Others= If you did not find great success or fame in the world's eyes, this does not mean that your life stories are insignificant and better forgotten by you. All of your stories will be treasured by your loved ones, and sometimes the "little" stories become the most loved as they are retold.
Historical Importance= And if you did not achieve the status of becoming a historical figure, it is even more important that your life stories are preserved. Historical records can be improved and enriched by including information about the everyday lives of "ordinary" people throughout history. Finally, the so-called "ordinary" people are often extraordinary individuals.
R: Now= The best time to preserve your life stories is always NOW. You will enjoy the experience of preserving life stories of yourself and other people, and you will find satisfaction when your stories are shared with others.
Later= The expected time of "later" may not happen on your schedule. You may miss the window in time where preserving a life story is a possibility. Due to sudden life changes of illness, memory loss, and death, the opportunity may be taken away from you and your family members.
Too Late= If you regret that you missed your chance with your family members to preserve their life stories, now is the time for you to take action and do things differently. Be the first in your family to set the example and preserve your own life stories.
BE THE LIVING LEAF ON YOUR FAMILY TREE!