What should not be forgotten
"I write so I can remember that which should not be forgotten."—Isabel Allende
This week I had the amazing opportunity to sit in conversation with the writer, Isabel Allende. She is the best-selling Spanish language author of all time, and has sold over 75 million copies worldwide. (Though she hilariously told me she had no idea where all the money went!)
In our hour-long conversation (in front of 200+ people), we talked about how at 77-years-young she has found new love and published a new book! How does she stay so resilient and so inspired I ask? "Curiosity and ritual." she replied.
Each year on January 8, she she sits down and starts a new book. The day before, on Jan. 7, she organizes her writing room and desk. She walks around with lit sage to cleanse the space and calls in her ancestors for guidance. "And they show up," she assured me.
She began this process on Jan. 8, 1981 when she sat down to write a letter to her dying grandfather whom she couldn't go visit in Chile because she was in political exile. That letter of remembrance, and honor, turned into her classic book, The House of Spirits. It was her very first book. And she did it by remembering, by recording the past, mining for meaning.
She has continued this habit of sitting down to write on Jan. 8 for nearly 40 years: through moves, weddings, divorces, and the deaths of her beloved daughter, and most recently her mother. This curiosity and ritual has produced 24 books and foundation in her daughters name.
We can all be inspired by Isabel, not only because of her immense talents, but because her survival skills are so accessible.
Armed with our own curiosity and ritual, we can journal, we can write, we can remember. We can start by writing a letter to our own grandparents, by looking to the past at those who came before us, and reclaim stories, people, customs, medicine.
All of our collective past & histories, traumas & dramas, survivor stories, eccentric families, those are characters, that is gold. Let's revive our stories, so like Isabel says, “we can remember that which should not be forgotten.”
With love and curiosity,