When my father was in active medical practice, beginning back in the 1950s, long before the days of answering machines and voice mail, doctors routinely employed the services of what was called the Medical Exchange. During off-hours, when patients could not reach their doctor at his office, they would call this glorified switchboard and leave a message.
The lady who took the messages was a Mrs. Kendrick, who had been with the service for many years. When the doctors would later call in to retrieve their messages, Mrs. Kendrick would always insist, “Write it down! Write it down!” She wished to emphasize that our short-term memories can be fleeting and fallible.
We may think that we shall always be able to recall life’s details with full accuracy even after lapses of time, but Mrs. Kendrick knew better. Most probably early in her career she had received many call backs from doctors, asking, “On that telephone number you gave me . . . did you say 341? Or 321?” Or, “Was that patient’s name War-ren or War-den?” The longsuffering Mrs. Kendrick would sigh and patiently repeat the information, along with the admonition “Write it down! Write it down!”
Throughout our lives, we experience many memorable events. We also have some rather profound ideas. Things we wish to remember always, but sometimes the exact details of which escape us. If you have special tales and insights you wish to keep for posterity, write them down! Now. While the facts are still fresh in your mind.
What are you most grateful for in your life right now? Where do you find comfort and peace for your journey? Who are the individuals who make your heart go pitter-pat? Whose presence sustains you? Write it down. Tell your story.
I have discovered that much of what I wish to say to the world is brought out simply through the act of remembering and then writing those thoughts down. It’s kind of amazing, actually. I often see my work coalesce on paper right in front of my eyes, even before I consciously realize where my thoughts are taking me.
I’m reminded of the story of the little child in Kindergarten who was intently sketching a picture one day. He was deep in concentration on his work when someone asked him, “What are you drawing?” The little boy, with a rather exasperated tone, replied, “I don’t know. I haven’t finished it yet.”
I venture to say that every one of you has recollections and perspectives running around in your head that are definitely worth sharing with others. I encourage you to grab a pen and a pad of paper, put on your thinking cap, and let your thoughts flow.
As Mrs. Kendrick would say, write it down!