Editors are often called story tellers and the last re-writers on the show. This struck me anew as I have been putting together a picture album of my new house for my parents. I won’t always be there to tell them about each photo so reflexively I began arranging the photos as if a phantom narrator was talking about each one. Putting together an album or a slide show or a PowerPoint is telling a story, relating the picture (or content) before to the picture (or content) afterwards, one page or slide at a time.
My parents live in a retirement community beautifully situated on the Hudson River in NY where they are well taken care of. My father, 86, devotedly takes care of my mother, mother, 84, who has dementia and macular degeneration to the point where she can no longer read. I miss the intellectual essence that has departed yet I marvel at the mother essence which remains intact. I am awed by her ever upbeat attitude and continue to learn from her: She values life, loving her family and friends, listening to books on tape, and determined to enjoy what she can and not focus on what is gone.
The album is for her as she will never be able to visit my new home. And for my father, who hopefully will, and will be able to go over it with her.
So this is my holiday wish for you: As you mingle with your family, friends, and strangers – in shops, airports, bus stations, places of worship, soup kitchens, etc. – listen to their tales and be aware of how you are telling your own. And do so with as much honesty, tenderness, and caring as you can muster. This will assure you the best possible holidays for everyone. And let’s carry this truthful, compassionate story telling into the next year and beyond as editors and people on this earth.