18 Mar Where are the stories and legends of our time?
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
― Philip Pullman
As long as we’ve had language, we’ve had stories. And as long as we’ve had stories, we’ve had storytelling. Tales have been told around the campfire, immemorated in books, and shared over Sunday lunch. In every corner of the world — from England with its bards to the Griots of West Africa —storytelling has been a powerful way to share cultural information.
Today, Sunday lunches with family are a rarity, and when they do occur we’re usually accompanied by our mobile phones next to us on the table. We don’t write letters, and we maintain many of our family connections and friendships through the flawless lens of our social media profiles. Our chaotic lives are often too busy to connect with our loved ones and share the kind of ancestral folklore that was once a staple.
“100,000 years ago we started developing our language. It’s sound to say that we started using storytelling to transfer knowledge from generation to generation,” says David JP Phillips in a 2017 TEDx talk. “27,000 years ago we started transferring knowledge from generation to generation through cave paintings. 3,500 years ago we started transferring knowledge from generation to generation through text. 28 years ago, PowerPoint was born.”
As Phillips points out, we have begun to replace tens of thousands of years of storytelling tradition with arguably inferior modern substitutes. We’ve become obsessed with documenting and recording each moment of our lives, but mostly through superficial means. We even hear people jokingly say, “If you didn’t post about it on Instagram, did it even happen?” about sunsets, camping trips, weddings. We say this in jest, but it points to the fact that we’ve traded face-to-face interaction for brief digital exchanges and true storytelling for a social media highlights reel.
Take a moment to reflect on the stories you inherited from your parents or grandparents. You might even be able to recall how and when you first heard them, or that they’ve been repeated multiple times. They will most likely be a collection of stories that impart knowledge or wisdom, stories that make you laugh, stories that help you understand where your family comes from – where you come from — stories that tell of some incredible, once-in-a-lifetime feat. How would it feel if all of these stories were lost? Do you wish you had access to more of them?
This is what My Life Capsule seeks to do: to combine the ancient art of storytelling with a modern technological tool that does justice to the rich and complex lives we lead. It gives you the chance to ensure that something of you is left behind: a legacy; a bundle of memories for your loved ones to keep. For those of us who aren’t moved to write our memoirs —and this is most of us, considering the time and discipline it takes — My Life Capsule offers a means to record the events of our lives in a meaningful way and to share them with an intimate group. It’s a container for not just your stories but your most important insights, thoughts, feelings, photos and videos so that these things can become a gift to your children, your grandchildren and their children.
And for anyone who doesn’t believe that their life is interesting enough to be recorded, Phillips says, “Write down your stories. You’ll notice that you have three to four times more stories in your life than you thought that you had.” The truth is that each of us has a book in us, and that details of our lives that seem ordinary to us might be fascinating to generations down the line. Whether you realise it or not, your life is a work of art: a unique event full of unique experiences that has never occurred before, and will never occur again. Begin your life capsule now, and spend time with your elders to capture theirs.