I believe we can give a pretty good representation of our life by choosing stories that show what we thought or learned, what we experienced, and what ideas and beliefs motivated our actions. By sharing stories that focus on the high points, low points, turning points and lessons learned, we're actually giving readers a glimpse of the events that define who we are.
We should focus on the highlights or events that stand out as important to each of us. These stories will likely include the most emotionally charged, formative events of our lives; like first times, influential people, love and loss. If we sift through our many, many memories, these significant stories will rise to the top, while lesser ones fall through naturally.
Consider this story about the important things in life—I think it's relevant for life stories as well...
"A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items on the table in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, about 2 inches in diameter.
He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.
He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”
“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter – like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else. The small stuff.”
“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life.
If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
photo credit: StephenMitchell via photopin cc