Tis the season for family gatherings and good old summertime barbecues. Friends and family come over to visit and eat and drink. There’s always a group that nabs the chairs around the kitchen table as soon as they arrive. Some will hit the patio or front porch, always a few that linger in the kitchen, and a couple that work the crowd – that’s usually me. I like to hear what people are talking about, and then decide whether or not I want to join in on the conversation. After a few recent get-togethers, I noticed a disturbing trend in the conversations – hardly any of them were about things that had happened in the past year or two, or even five. There were stories about that time in high school, that one time he adventured to a new place, or when she almost got caught doing something she shouldn’t have been doing. Was anyone sharing stories about recent happenings? Most of the current events were about aches, pains, surgeries, and new prescriptions. What have you people been doing for the past 5 years? or 10 or 20? Working and paying bills? Watching television? Playing on Facebook? When was the last time you read a book that you wanted to tell someone about? Or tried a new fishing hole? Or ran a new trail? Or just read, fished or ran – at all?!
I don’t mean to suggest that I haven’t done some of these things – and told the old stories. Admit it…we all have, and sometimes still do. I also don’t mean to suggest that we shouldn’t ever tell those old stories – they’re part of our personal history and what makes you – you, and me – me. But I also know the person that I am today, is not even remotely close to the person attached to those old stories, and honestly, I don’t want to talk about her all the time, or ever be her again.
When we were making plans to move to Alaska (it only took 8 weeks from conception to moving), Wayne and I sat down and had a heart to heart. We had been watching travel, cooking and adventure shows on TV, and I told him I was tired of watching other people do all those things. He was, too. Why are we living vicariously through other people? They aren’t any different from we are – other than that they did SOMETHING. If we were going to move to Alaska, we weren’t going to just go and keep watching television. We were going to go DO something – and we did. We fished and hunted, we traveled, we picked berries and watched the Northern Lights. I finished college,passed my CPA exam, and got my first grown up job. And then right before we left Alaska, I started running. One of the best things that running has done for me, is help me to create so many new memories.
It occurred to me that people start getting old when they stop living life, when they stop making new memories. Listen to the stories you tell, the experiences you share with people. When did they happen? Are you the guy at the party that tells the same. stories. every. damn. time!! Please stop. Go make some new stories to tell. Here’s another idea – not all of the stories have to be about what I affectionately call ‘the bad old days’. We all have some of those stories – they usually involve drunkenness, debauchery or breaking the law. Don’t tell those stories any more. If that is the highlight of your life, you need to get a new one.
Life is short folks. Go outside. Read a book. Climb a mountain. Try something new. Do those projects you tell everyone your plans for, but never even start. Quit making excuses and start making new memories…and then talk about it at the next barbecue or family gathering. Maybe you’ll inspire someone else to do the same thing.
Tell me a story about a recent adventure – something you did that challenged you, or scared you, or that you always wanted to do and finally did. Don’t have one? Go make one, and come back!