I came across this Annie Dillard quote the other day: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” It got me thinking.
There are times when the humdrum of keeping a personal history business afloat and tending to clients’ concerns can leave me drained and questioning if this is how I want to spend my days. Why am I a personal historian? I tell myself that I’m helping families record and preserve their stories as a legacy for future generations. And I’m documenting the oral history of a particular time and place.
These are OK answers but they don’t make my heart sing. They don’t make me rise above the day-to-day minutiae and say, “Yes! This is how I want to spend my days!” So I dug a little deeper and I found where the gold lies.
I’m a personal historian because it aligns with four of my core values: independence, service, variety, and creativity. Let me explain. I enjoy the fact that I’m my own boss and can shape each day pretty much the way I want. I need to feel that what I do benefits others in a meaningful way. My work allows me to wear a variety of hats such as marketer, interviewer, writer, and designer. As a bonus I get to meet an amazing cross-section of people. Lastly, I love to create things. At the end of the day I can point to something I’ve worked on and say, “This is what I made.”
When our work is aligned to our deepest values it has resonance and supports us. Sometimes I forget that in the day-to-day business of my work I need to remember where the gold lies.
Where does the gold lie for you? Why are you a personal historian?
Photo by Dan Curtis