Pass on the Memories


Ageing is inevitable and unstoppable by any scientific means. Living life to the fullest is, of course, the best way to experience this ride. However, I recently began to wonder what happens to all the experiences one encounters, throughout one's existence.


I decided to begin a project next year, to documenting all of the interesting, humorous and sometimes sad experiences, which have taken me through life’s journey. Every day, events from the past, are triggered by something someone says, or seeing something in passing. I started making notes, so they would not be missed or forgotten, when I begin my manuscript.


The project started me thinking and wondering, about the millions of stories, bottled up inside people's memories. I remember taking a road trip with my father through Europe, and he opened up about his time during the war. It was information I had only heard bits and pieces of, and I remember thinking how glad I was, to be able to learn and retain this material as part of my history.


I have written several articles on World War II veterans, and remember thinking how wonderful their stories were. I felt honoured they shared them with me. In one case, I received an email from the son of one of the Vets, telling me he never knew any of the information in the article.


Everything we do in life, every decision we make, every trip we take, every adventure we embark on, has a memory that needs to be captured for future generations. I have a friend who wrote detailed memoirs to his daughters when they were adults and he wished he had started it sooner. The children had no idea what he had experienced, and he explained it was a very emotional time.


Your writing skills may not be what you think they should be, however, it is about the information not the technical aids. In this day and age we have thousands, if not tens of thousands of photographs, digitally captured in the cloud. Most of us have thousands of emails and social media posts available for anyone to read, but our history is usually bottled up inside.


I have been writing the ‘Story Behind the Person’ article for eight years, and have interviewed many individuals. The information that comes out during the short time I spend with them, is amazing, and I am honoured to be able to capture it.


Give some thought to making notes and recording some of your life’s events, to share with others, as it will be appreciated and cherished for many years to come.


Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.


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