The Book of YOU!
By Stephen Doherty
“In the end, we’ll all become just stories.”
– Margaret Atwood
Write a book. I mean it. Leave a legacy beyond photos and possessions. Leave a piece of your heart and soul, with a glimpse into both, as part of the footprint of your existence for those who knew and loved you. An added benefit is the cathartic journey available to those willing to make the trek. Socrates once said that, “An un-examined life is not worth living.” Rest assured, in each and every one of us lies chapters and chapters of a life waiting for exploration and review. The benefits of leaving behind a chronicle of intimacy, vulnerability, and humility-can not be overstated. Do the people closest to you really know you? We spend our entire life sharing that life with those we love. Writing a book lets you truly share that life with those you love.
Of the many advantages (and disadvantages) of the high-tech, informational age we live in-perhaps one of the most intriguing is in the arena of book publishing. All you have to do is cobble together your life’s narrative and for a minimal investment, you can have your own life’s story printed and bound in quality and luxury that would be the envy of Twain or Longfellow. This is journaling on steroids as you can actually create a composite sketch of what you felt were the most important aspects of your life, key memories relived, and what you valued most from what was hopefully a life well lived. I can think of no gift that would resonate through the ages more resoundingly than the ability of those you cherished to grasp a piece of that in the pages you composed and left behind.
Throughout our history, we have always shared our most intimate musings via the written letter. Depending on when we lived, that letter could take weeks, months, even years to be placed in our hands. That precious document would then be opened with great care and read over and over and over again. It would find its place among other such precious correspondence in a box in the closet where it would be retrieved occasionally for review..and remembrance. Letters were written with such care and precision and emotional percussion, that with each reading we could almost feel the touch of the author and the sound of their voice – like a hug from a long lost love, caressing us through the mists of time.
Several years ago, I wrote a book called “To Father a Champion.” (Free download available at https://usachampion.com/the-book/ ) It allowed me to interview some pretty prominent Americans like Coach John Wooden, Jack Elway, Dick Kovacevich, Joe Dumars, and others. I wanted to capture the essence of great fathering by exploring the lives of great fathers who had sired and raised exceptional sons and daughters. The book had marginal commercial success but gave me something so much more valuable. I have something of myself to leave behind that my kids will find of interest and value throughout their own lives. In the immortal words of Randy Pausch, who achieved fame with his dying “Last Lecture” series, “I have put a message in a bottle that I threw in the ocean knowing that someday when they needed it most, it would wash up on the shores of their lives..”
The lives we live pass by in a cosmic blink of an eye. When my time comes, I will leave with a smile–knowing that the postman will someday deliver a letter to my kids that they will read–and reread, in remembrance of times gone by. For those of you who might be inclined to let photos chronicle the entirety of their time here, I would only remind them of the futility of a movie’s efforts to capture the essence of a good book. The written word always has better pictures. Write a book! The biggest beneficiary of the effort…will likely be you!