The writing circle I have the honor of facilitating just finished up another series of legacy writing. I shared one of our exercises a few weeks ago that several readers enjoyed doing themselves (if you missed it, you can find it here: Where I’m From). Here is another one.
It is simply a list of some of your favorite things—current and/or drawn from memory—using all your senses. Set a timer for 15 minutes (or 12 or 20 or whatever), and start writing without stopping, without censoring; you can improve it later, adding descriptive words. The prompt came from a legacy writing workshop I attended on Lummi Island last autumn with Tammy Coia. It’s an exercise in recognition of a rich life.
Here is what I wrote. Now you try!
What I Want Never to Forget
the heady aroma of alpine trees at Mt. Rainier.
the trust in a child’s hand taking mine.
the concentration in my father’s face as he pushed a board across the table saw.
the pungency of the peaked pile of golden sawdust.
the infectious belly laugh of a baby.
walking in the silence of an old growth forest, listening to history.
my mother’s gnarled hand resting on my middle-aged one.
the slam of a wooden screen door.
lying on my stomach to drink from a glacial stream, before it wasn’t safe.
the earthy scent of the dry forest after rain.
the quiet plip plop of the canoe paddle on a still lake.
the patter of rain on the roof.
the pound of rain on the roof.
the unconditional love of a child.
the euphoria of standing on top of a mountain ridge.
the safety of my small hand in my father’s large one.
the promise of imminent snowfall.
the warmth of a cat curled in my lap.
the gloriosity of a sunrise behind the mountain.
the first cries of my newborn babies.
the spray of water on my face from behind a waterfall.
the full moon sailing from behind the trees at the end of the valley.
the pounding surf and the tinkle of the shifting smooth round stones.
the woodsy fragrance of a campfire.
the exuberant hug of a child.
the sweet juice of a mango dripping down my chin.
the exploding starburst of orgasmic ecstasy.
the promise of sun burning through fog.
the giddy anticipation of heading out on an adventure.
running out the back door to play, before I knew caution.
meeting a grandchild for the first time.
biting into a crisp apple just plucked from the tree on an autumn day.
spooning with a lover.
the thrill—and relief—of an A on a test.
landing in Seattle to mountains and tall firs after too long away.
the star-filled sky.
a whispered “I love you” in my ear.
laughing until I cry.
sun on my face after a long winter.
fireflies, crepe myrtles, and southern thunderstorms.
the love in a warm hug.
kicking red and gold leaves.
time spent with good friends.
soaking rain after too long without.
the “new discovery” delight on a child’s face.
the coyote’s howl, the owl’s hoot, the peeper’s chirp.
the amazement and love on my grandson’s face when he met his baby brother for the first time, and touched his tiny hand.
rounding the last curve in the trail and bursting from the trees into a high alpine meadow of wildflowers.
my mother’s last whispered “I love you.”
What I want never to forget, even as I forget all of this, is that I lived every moment. That I was curious. That I paid attention.
4 thoughts on “What I Want Never to Forget”
We call it “the 10,000-year second.” Each moment an eternity.
Doing this exercise made me both incredibly happy and incredibly sad. I think I’ll title mine: Juxtaposition …
Sad as in nostalgic?
Yeah, maybe. To conjure a memory enough to name it is one thing, to actually map the feeling is quite another. Even the brightest colors eventually fade. That’s the sadness.