I was recently reminiscing about my childhood memories. The fondest of which are the big family dinners we used to have with relatives, often including at least three generations.
I loved these dinners. My earliest memories of these are from when I was about seven years old and my brother, cousins and I would race around playing games, driving the adults mad but enjoying every minute.
I come from Jewish heritage and I remember some of my older relatives having strange tattoos on their arms. I later discovered they were from the concentration camps they had been incarcerated in during the Second World War.
As a young child, I had no concept of what those tattoos signified nor the horrors my relatives had experienced. I just remember the ‘grown ups’ talking seriously for hours into the evening while we dashed about playing hide and seek.
By the time I began to understand the reality of these tattoos and the conversations which went with them I was perhaps eleven or twelve years old, and by then, sadly, those great aunts and uncles had passed away and were unable to share their stories.
I was reminded of this when I was in Australia recently where I was fortunate to meet and work with a Rick Stevenson.
A remarkable filmmaker from the US who is currently leading The 5000 Days Project. He has been travelling around the world for a number of years filming the thoughts of children as they progress through school. The results are deeply moving.
What reminded me of these memories, was an ancient African saying Rick mentioned which I had never heard before and which had been a catalyst for his project.
“Every time an old person dies, a library burns down.”
It struck me just how incredibly powerful that thought was.
I regret not spending more time with my older relatives and missing out on their stories and wisdom. I think it's why now, I am so captivated by the thoughts and stories of others.
We would all be the richer if we preserved the pages, chapters and books that make up our older friends, relatives and colleagues’ libraries.
Don't you think?
So, my advice to you is to keep talking, keep listening and most importantly keep sharing.