By John O'Leary. This was originally posted on JohnOLearyInspires.com. When John O'Leary was 9 years old, he suffered burns over 100% of his body and was expected to die. He is now an inspirational speaker and bestselling author, teaching more than 50,000 people around the world each year how to live inspired. John's first book, ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life was published March 15, 2016. John is a contributing writer for Huff Post and Parade.com. John is a proud husband and father of four and resides in St. Louis, MO. Order John’s book today anywhere books are sold.
On a family vacation several years ago my seven-year-old son stole my phone.
The thief (Patrick) moved methodically room to room throughout the rental house, taking pictures. He captured every wall in every room within the house. He even walked around outside and took pictures of the barbeque pit, the fence, the swing, and the view toward the beach.
In reviewing pictures that evening, I swiped through more than 100 pictures he had taken. In trying to make sense of all the random, seemingly useless pictures, I asked what he was doing. Why did he take these?
Seated at the kitchen table, with a juice box as a companion, he looked up and stated matter-of-factly: “I just want to remember this.”
The kid had a point.
The vacation was awesome, the weather ideal, the place perfect. Besides a bit of sun burn on his shoulders and sand in his flip-flops, tee shirt, and shells, he wanted a more tangible way to remember the time.
It begs the question: how do you work to ensure you remember your vacations?
More than that, though, how do you take inventory of not just of your summer highlights, but of your life?
My Commitment to Remembering Everyday Life
With four kids, a demanding travel schedule, and meeting with thousands of individuals each year, I wanted to take pause today to remember and celebrate the person that matters most to me: my wife.
On January 1, 2017, I bought a new journal, opened it to the first page, and wrote the words, “Dear Beth:”
What followed was a note committing to her that each night for the next year, instead of missing how good our life was, or focusing on something that went wrong, I would record something she said, she did, she shared that was remarkable.
I wanted to capture, in the midst of the busyness of our lives, not only how fortunate we were, but how remarkable she is. I just didn’t want to miss it.
So, without her knowledge, each evening I secretly recorded something beautiful she said, she did, or we experienced together. I tracked the subtle moments of enjoying coffee on our screened-in-porch, the walks around the block together with our dog, or the way she shined before heading out on a date.
I recorded little things she did to help kids get to practice or prepare for a test, and the baskets of dirty clothes that were magically cleaned, folded and placed in drawers each night.
I noted dinners she quietly prepared for a sick friend and the enormous amount of work she does in our home, at her work and in our community.
Some entries were deeply private; shared moments between a married couple. Others were hilarious moments shared with family or friends. But each night, something was recorded that otherwise would have become a missed, forgotten, unacknowledged moment of grace.
And on December 25th, 360 days or so after the journey began, with wrapping paper covering the floor, I handed her a poorly wrapped gift.
She unwrapped it and saw a well-travelled, frayed, coffee-stained leather journal. Opening it, she saw my handwriting and movie ticket stubs and receipts from restaurants. She saw plane tickets from a special trip and a simple love note she wrote me and hid in my bag before a work trip.
In other words, she saw a year’s worth of love, forgiveness, sadness, gratitude, sorrow, joy… life.
Life is a Gift; Don’t Forget It
As the kids played with their toys, with a tree lighting up the corner of the room, and Christmas music playing in the background, a huge smile covered her face.
“Why did you do this?!”
I answered with a response one of our kids had taught me a couple years earlier.
I wanted to remember this.
My friends, in the midst of the mundane, the hectic, the tragic and the redemptive, consider slowing down long enough each day to track the remarkable journey that is your life.
Write down what is worth remembering. Leave behind what is best forgotten. And embrace the truth that life is seldom easy, rarely perfect, but always a gift.
Looking for your next healthcare speaker? Get in touch with us at the Capitol City Speakers Bureau today to make your healthcare event a success!