While sifting through boxes of old family photographs, random mementos, and dusty souvenirs last week, I felt oddly disconnected from all of them. Who were these people in the photographs, where were they, what were they doing, and most importantly, why? It was almost as if a stranger had given me an archive, somehow waylaid on its journey to another family.

The meaning of things, even these torn and cracked things in my possession is the story of our lives. Apparently, these represented my story, even though their meaning escaped me for the moment.

Would it be worth trying to recapture those stories? Could I? Even now when I recall past family outings with my brothers, we all have wildly different recollections of what happened. Are there lessons there that would make my last decades more fully lived or would a recap of the past only create a drag, build headwinds, entangling future adventures with unwanted baggage?

One reason for retrieving this family archive was the coincidence of writing my memoir. Writing a memoir, something I thought I’d never do simply because I thought memoirs seem so self-absorbed and certainly no one would find my memoir of interest. A review of those photos and mementos revealed a rather uninteresting and unexceptional life, or so it seemed to me. Would a search for a more meaningful life dig up a more interesting past?

Perhaps I should find out.

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