I do love teaching workshops. There’s so much give and take and I always learn something new. It’s a joy to see the lightbulb go on for people when they’ve been struggling with a problem for a long time – when something I’ve said trips a switch in their head and suddenly, they get the whole truth.
This afternoon, I started a new workshop class at a local seniors’ centre. You never know whether you’ll get a good group or even if anyone will show up, but today we had a nice number – enough for lots of discussion but not so many that we couldn’t all contribute.
It’s My Job
As an instructor, it’s my job to pass on skills and knowledge, but it’s such a privilege to learn from my students – their lives have been so different from mine. We’ve all had good times and bad, hardship and happiness, but there are so many different flavours to these emotions. Truth, the whole truth, is different for every person, even those with an identical background.
I’m always fascinated by the life stories people have to tell, and so many different reasons for wanting to write their memoirs. Some want to honour loved ones by passing on the old stories about them now that they’re no longer here to share those stories in person. Some want to become closer to grandchildren, letting the kids into their lives in a more intimate way by telling them the history, values and truths of their own lives. These people know that much of what they tell the youngsters will seem like historical novels, great adventures of olden times or something out of a movie.
Then and Now
Life is so different today. These kids have never known a time without the internet, cars, spaceships, and supermarkets. Most of them can’t remember a time without cellphones or tablets and the idea of inventing their own games or spending the day simply sifting around outside exploring the neighbourhood is anathema to many of them.
We see these generic stories passed around the internet all the time – nostalgic bits and pieces of the whole truth— snippets about how it was when we were young — the things we took for granted that are obsolete now, and that youngsters can’t even identify — words and phrases now outdated and fashions determined by the values of a different time.
These kids find our stories unbelievable or some kind of fantasy. What we thought of as cool and sophisticated are now considered quaint and old-fashioned. Even the language seems rather precious and self-conscious: “Cool, man! Far out! Groovy,” “23 Skidoo,” or “Kilroy Was Here!”
Once we’re gone, so much of that will be lost or mistranslated by whichever Hollywood screenwriter happens to be in favour at the moment. We need to provide the context and background for those “quaint” sayings and obsolete styles and implements. We are responsible for making sure our stories are told in a way that makes sense to future generations and maybe even provides fodder for the Oscar-winning screenplay of 2048!
I want to help you make sure your words are heard or read. I want help you to leave your truth behind you — your whole truth, the substance, not merely the superficial.
I don’t want you to die with your story unwritten.