The Business of Life


I’ve been watching Downton Abbey. Frankly, I love the show. Maybe I shouldn’t because I come from a country with deep wounds from colonization and the associated social class structures, and the Crawleys represent so much of what went wrong in history but the writing is impeccable and the characters are so well-crafted that I can’t stay away. 

While, the Dowager Countess usually has the most memorable lines:

Don’t be defeatist, dear – it’s very middle class. (Season 2, episode 8)

Something Mr. Carson said really got me thinking.

The business of life is the acquisition of memories; in the end that’s all there is. (Season 4, episode 3)

If the business of life is indeed the acquisition of memories then storytelling (or story-collecting, in my case) can be thought of as a way to safeguard those memories so that once acquired, they are not lost. And if I think of life in this way, what will I lose or gain? How will my perspective change?

It’s possible that this perspective might encourage one to pursue quantity over quality – numerous different, and possibly shallow memories over fewer, more meaningful ones. But, for me anyways, I doubt this would be the outcome. I think it could encourage a light-heartedness that is often difficult to come by. It could serve as a reminder that I should be pursuing the feelings and experiences I really want in order to create memories that will keep me company when “the end” arrives. 

My stories – both familial and personal – archive memories that have been purposefully as well as incidentally acquired. As I go about the process of preserving them, I hope to be more intentional about the process of acquiring them. 


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