I often think of life as a set of “T-shirt” moments. For instance my bride has often thought that the perfect t-shirt for me is “often wrong, seldom in doubt”. I can live with that. For the Life Log Project I think the T-shirt that best sums up the process for many people is “Unremarkable, but fascinating” and I say that hoping not to offend anyone.
Most of the people I have met in the course of recording stories do not think of themselves as remarkable in any way. Nor do they think of themselves as fascinating, but I do. Most of them go out of their way to tell me they are not very interesting and it might not be worth my time to record their story.
Regardless of whether you invented fire or not, everyone’s life can be made fascinating by asking the right questions. The world is changing so fast I can barely keep up. Things that I thought were just plain bad manners only a few short years ago, are now accepted as reasonable behaviour. (please note anyone that walks down the street while texting). So things that were plainly a ‘matter of course’, or ‘just what we did’ or ‘thats how everyone did it back then’ are absolutely fascinating to me now, and to those of my generation and those younger than me.
Think back for a moment if you can about our old telephones. I’m talking about the home phone before mobiles. They were pretty special items in any house. When we were young children, we were taught how to answer them in a specific way. We were taught to run and answer them whenever they rang because there was no message bank. We were taught to keep conversations short because someone else may be trying to call us. There was no such thing as call-waiting back then. When the phone rang, the race was on to get there first and repeat the phone answering mantra before listening.
Then there was the local phone box if you were lucky enough to have one. In Canberra one of these phone boxes would regularly give up free STD calls and you would recognise that phone box separate from the hundreds of others by the long queue outside it. In those days calling interstate or overseas was simply prohibitive so it was a real score to find a free telephone box.
These were the same days when you would make decisions about where to fill up your car with petrol based on how good or speedy the service was, not so much on price. If they kept you waiting too long before jogging out to fill your car, or were keener on leering at your friends than filling your car, it was time to change petrol stations. Hasn’t that changed!
Supermarkets didn’t have pre packaged meals of any type. You purchased groceries and cooked them. It doesn’t matter that you may think your life is not worth retelling or capturing, it does not need to be remarkable to be fascinating, particularly to those generations of people who have and will come after you. Wouldnt it be lovely to be able to just sit and listen to your great-grandmother talk about her day-to-day life and the things she thought were important. The T-shirt reads “unremarkable maybe, fascinating for sure.”