I wear a lot of jewelry made with semi-precious materials and natural stone – materials like onyx, agate, pearl, amber and jasper. I love asking vendors at art fairs and jewelry stores for the names of the stone, and after a while I noticed that when it came to jasper and agate, I never heard the same name twice. Moss agate. Blood jasper. Navajo Jasper. The names are almost as beautiful as the stones.
As it turns out, jasper and agate are formed in the same way, the only difference is that agate is clear in places whereas jasper is colored all the way thru. The colors come from the mineral composition of the earth when the stone is formed. And every pocket of stone is different because the composition of the ground is unique. When someone finds a cache of jasper or agate, they name it because that’s the only place in the world that you will find that pattern, that unique blend of color.
Life stories are like that too.
Every person endures their own unique blend of influences, of circumstances. Even though our lives share many, many common elements every story is unique and colorful and beautiful. Our purpose with the memoir process is to dig it up, to mine it out, to polish it up so that you can appreciate the raw, natural, unique beauty that is your story.
I mean, these are just rocks, right? What if the person who found them was like “eh, they are just rocks, everyone has rocks, I mean it’s not like the world needs more rocks.” And yet, here they are. Loved and valuable. Displayed and admired.
I hear people use these SAME words about their life story.
“I’ve got stories, but everyone has stories. Who would want my stories? There are so many other stories that are better than mine.” Be careful that you don’t view your stories as common things, and therefore not valuable. It’s not true. Your stories are unique, and valuable, and if you just dig them up and save them they will be treasured by the people who love you.
Whenever I tell people that I help people write their memoirs, it’s very rare that they say “I need help writing my stories.” What I hear almost every time is “I need your help getting my parents or grandparents to write their stories because they don’t see the point.”
Or, more tragically, “I wish my grandparents had written their stories before they passed away.”
If you feel this way about your own relatives, then you know exactly how your family will feel about you someday. Will they be glad you saved the story? Or will they be heartbroken that you didn’t?
Stories may be common. But your story is rare.