Saturday, April 7, 2012

Vanity of Vanities. All is Vanity. Or Arguments in Favor of Preserving Your History

Many of us were brought up to be humble, not to think of ourselves as “better” or “more important” than others. That means that when presented with the notion of being the focus of a documentary film, folks protest:

“It seems so vain, like I think I’m something special.”
“I didn’t do anything worth spending that kind of time, money and attention on me.”
“I don’t look so good these days. Do this with someone younger and more attractive.”

            While we can appreciate your sentiments, you are looking at this question from your perspective alone. But what if you looked at it from a historical viewpoint?

“It seems so vain, like I think I’m something special.”
But you are special! Your family, who loves you and wants to have you with them forever, wouldn’t be here if not for you. That very fact, in and of itself, is a reason to pass on your life story and wisdom to future generations.
Yes, we understand that it might be a bit uncomfortable at first, especially if you are not accustomed to being the focus of so much attention, but your family will appreciate the fact that you were so thoughtful, overcame your reluctance, and took the time to do this for them.
Imagine how much it would have meant to you if you had a video recording of your parents, especially after they were gone, to comfort you and to share with your children.
Don’t think of this as vanity. Think of it as history. By creating this film you are ensuring that your family’s history – particularly the things that you know and remember - is being preserved and passed down to future generations.  Not only will your children have this memento, but your grandchildren, and their children.

“I don’t look so good these days. Do this with someone younger and more attractive.”
At the risk of sounding like somebodies’ mother, you are who you are, and your family loves you for you, not your appearances.
Again, if you had to choose between no DVD of your parents or an hour-long film of them talking, laughing, and telling stories at the very end of their life, which would you prefer?
Your face - wrinkled or not, with its crown of grey hair (or no hair!) - is the face that your family loves. Your voice - even if it is no longer as robust as it once was - is the sound that they most love to hear. Give them this gift – put aside your hesitations and worries and preserve a few hours of you for them!

“I didn’t do anything worth spending that kind of time, money and attention on me.”
The average and normal are amazing. It is our very uniqueness that makes us each a star in our own little universe.
Those stories about the everyday things you did are what your family treasures. Whether it is the story of working in the fields in the summer heat, fishing with your friends when you played hooky, or how you met the love of your life, these are the most favored and valued stories of your children. Not because they are best-selling tales, but because they are you.
When you look at old family photos, I imagine that you know some facts about those ancestors of yours: their names, when they lived, perhaps even an interesting tale or two. But what is missing from that photo is the essence of who they really were. What did they sound like? Were they really as serious as that photograph leads you to believe? Are they proof that your inability to tell a joke is hereditary and not your fault? Could they sing? Who were they?
Only by preserving your image and voice in a documentary-style film will future generations have the answers to those questions when it comes to you.

“She/he is too ill to do it now so we shouldn’t bother her/him with this.”
We understand and appreciate your concern for the well-being of your loved one. And we will work closely with the medical and care-taking staff to be sure to do everything possible to minimize discomfort and disruption. If that means we have to film the interview over a course of several days, we can do that.
However, we have found that sometimes the opportunity to tell favorite stories - to be asked by a genuinely interested and totally new audience to relive old memories - has a revitalizing effect. Rather than causing the speaker to become tired, they are more energetic as they think back on younger times. And those who have been struggling with memory issues are relieved to be discussing times and places that are distant enough that they can be confident in the accuracy of their memories.

If you haven't done so already, isn't it time to start preserving your family history, the stories of your loved ones? Begin with YOUR story. And then gather and preserve the stories of your parents. This isn't vanity. It's history.

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