Thoughts on Tributes

A dear friend of ours lies in the hospital in critical condition as I write this. I’ll spare you the details other than mentioning he’s in a coma as the result of complications following what should have been routine surgery. As the hours and days crawl by, we continue to hope, but thoughts of the other possibility keep nudging their way into awareness.

“This sounds like a journal entry. I thought this was a blog about Lifestory Writing,” I hear some of you thinking. You’re so right. That previous paragraph is a sort of journal entry. But it does tie in with lifestory writing. We’ve known this man and his family for a third of a century. Though we’ve always lived a considerable distance apart, we’ve visited each other, traveled together, and shared many fine adventures. However, I have never written any stories featuring this friend and his family.

Today I realize that whether now or later, those adventures will come to an end. When the time comes, as it must, what would be more comforting to his surviving family than a story or few about our times together, and what they meant to us? This is a double-win situation. They’ll have the stories, and we’ll also have them. Naturally I shall set about writing something right way, and hope I have years to edit it.

Taking this thought one step further, I realize that over my lifetime I’ve had dozens of friends and Very Special People touch my life in various ways, but I haven’t featured more than a couple in stories. I’m not anticipating that any of them will die soon. In fact, I wouldn’t even know where to find most of them today. But they deserve a tribute — a tribute that will be fun to share now with the ones I can still find, and a tribute their families may appreciate later.

Writing this tribute will be a pleasure for me, even if no one else ever reads it. I’ll remember our fine times together, and feel joy again in the memory of their presence.

What about you? Have you written stories about special people beyond the circle of your family? Have you written any tribute stories that you shared with families? If your best friend died tomorrow, would you have something on hand that you could read at a memorial service, or send to the family?

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal


Anonymous said...

Many people try to achieve goals. Most fail. Some strive, work hard and plan for all the details yet they achieve little or nothing at all. Others strive, work hard, plan and achieve huge success. Yet there are a few individuals who do little else than take small steps and seem to achieve a great deal with what seems like effortlessness. What is the difference between these people and which one would you like to be?
Most members of the human race fall into two categories - those who live in the past and those who live in the future. Most live in the past. Many of these are the people who achieve very little in their lives and are so fearful of the future that they dare not strike out to get anything. They are the under-achievers who hang onto bad episodes in their lives and either relive them time and again or look at new situations as similar potentialities. They say things like "all men are deceivers" or "all women are interested in is money" or "I can't do it. I tried before and it didn't work so why bother!". Due to bad experiences in the past they believe that all future events will turn out the same way if they dare to go after what they want.
The other type of person lives in the future. This type tends to create more of the things they want in life. They have a vision of where they want to go and exactly how they are going to get there. They work diligently at making concrete plans and they pursue those plans with a persistent ferocious appetite for success. These people are the high achievers - The Richard Branson and Bill Gates of the world. These people have much to teach us about setting and achieving goals.
However, there is a third type of person who almost goes unnoticed. They are the person who takes life in its stride and yet achieve most of what they want. I am sure you know of such a person in your life that just seems to saunter through life and yet they always come out on top. Or a person who you hear of that has decided to open a shop. You meet them a few months later and they have three shops all doing well! So what makes these people so successful and if they aren't living in the past and aren't living in the future where are they living?
I suppose you guessed it! Whether they are consciously aware of it or not they are living in the present. It is in the 'living' present that we have our greatest power. Everything happens in the present. You live your entire life there - even if your mind does not!
By becoming more aware of the present and by 'accepting' it as it is we are much more in control of our emotions and focus. When we live in the past we are fearful of making bad choices and/or getting hurt. We do not wish to recreate the past again! When we live in the future we can also be fearful of what might happen. But even if your future vision is full of power and worthy of working towards many people can, and often do, get stuck there. By constantly reaching for bigger and better goals they fail to enjoy what they have in the moment.
If you wish to start living a life that is almost effortless begin first by living in the present. Accept your situation the way it is and then you can enjoy what you have. Your focus changes from a memory of what was or a vision of what might be to a realization of what is. You become much more empowered to then see the beauty of life and also look at where you wish to make changes. But to make changes you must first accept the situation as it is. Trying to escape from your present only increases your focus on your problems by creating resistance to what is. Accept your life as it is now. Make no judgement, just accept it and then you will be free of doubt, worry, pain and fear. For you only experience these things when you live outside the 'moment'. personal development

rick dieffenbach said...

It's true that many people live in the past. At the same time, its true that people who ignore their past in favor of 'living for the moment' sometimes live truly disfunctional lives precisely because they have not delt with issues that got them there in the first place.

I have a relative, let's call him Kelvin. Kelvin has cut his family off, including parents, sisters, nieces, nephews from a love and affection. He barely stays in touch. When family tries to talk to him, he always retorts 'I don't want to talk about it, I want to live for now, not in the past.'

The problem with that, for Kelvin, is that his past has a strangle hold around his neck. Everyone sees it but him.

The truth of the matter is that each of us is the sum total of our experiences, good and bad, past or present, and that they combine to make us who we are. That's normally a good thing. But sometimes, like a cancer growth, it's best to deal with it rather than ignore it.

That's how I think about collecting memories and writing them down.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Rick, thanks for visiting and commenting so long after this post was written. Perhaps others will find it also. Since I wrote this post I've become aware of the healing power of writing about those past experience Kelvin prefers to ignore and begun teaching classes on Writing for the Health of It. Unfortunately, people like Kelvin probably won't be in those classes.

Your comments point out the dangers of living only in the moment. Rot and mold live in the moment too. The fruit will only last if the rot and mold are removed before they progress too far.

Kikies said...

Thanks Sharon for this post. I drew a lot of inspiration from reading it and have read it over and over since I chanced on it. I lost a dear aunty recently and my family asked me to write a tribute on behalf of nieces and nephews...after putting together the first draft was thinking 'wow, my aunty and I have really shared some time and interesting moments together, though brief and I didn't even realise it till now that she's gone'...
Everybody should come across and read your piece.

I don't know if it is appropriate to say CONGRATULATIONS! Said it anyway.
Kiki, Ghana-West Africa.