“As people become aware of the finitude of their life, they do not ask for much; they do not seek more riches; they do not seek more power; they only ask to be permitted, in as much as possible, to keep shaping the story of their life in the world. ” Atul Gawande, from Being Mortal.
I have always, from the youngest age, lost myself within books. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realised what it is I really have a fondness for is storytelling. Songs, poetry, deep conversations with people, photography: I see now that storytelling is not simply limited to books.
Why? Why does storytelling matter? Because when people reach the end of their life, they don’t want money or influence. They don’t want fame or spotlights or a new dining table. They want to be inside their stories. They want to be present in it. They want to own it: What they think of the world, how life has shaped them, who they loved, what they fostered and ultimately – what they’ve made of it.
My story is no more special than yours. Yours no more than mine. We each have a lifetime, some shorter, some longer, to turn what we’re given into something that is ours.
Which is why I go to great lengths to photograph and be photographed. To find the time to write even when washing piles and desperate fatigue pull me otherwise. It matters to turn this life into a story. It matters to document it; the act itself makes life more special. It matters to create a legacy of the story I’m writing, day by ordinary day. Because we get to the end of our lives and we realise that, in fact, there was nothing ordinary about it – these days. The choices we make, the connections we foster, the little joys, the journey from a to b to c are the exact things we treasure – and want more of – in the end.
So here’s our story of right now; that time in our lives when a third precious baby joined our family. When Ella would carry our chickens like they were her babies. When Billy wouldn’t take off his batman costume, not ever. When Joel and I reached a point in our marriage that was better than it had ever been before. When I birthed a child in the most sacred way, and have since felt so capable of mothering these three little souls gifted to me. When our family felt complete.
Right now, this is us.
Photography by Miriam from Life Is Beautiful.