Something is Better Than Perfection

By Gloria Nussbaum

Travel back with me to the 1980s or 90s. The phone rings, the one attached to the wall without a camera, a voice says, “It’s been a long time since we were in touch and you were on my mind.” You know immediately that it’s your best friend from high school to whom you haven’t spoken in years but you could never forget that voice and all the laughs you shared. 

When considering preserving your life story or that of a loved one, the first thought that often pops in our heads is writing, or maybe shooting a video.

But there’s another option right there in your pocket, on your smart phone. Have you ever considered simply “telling” your story and recording it? Oral storytelling is the oldest form of sharing stories and is still a wonderful option with the added benefit of being able to hear the actual voice of your loved one. And you don’t even need to pick up a pen. Did you know that voice brings a person to memory more strongly and vividly than a photograph? Think about it…

I’ve been a personal historian for 20 years and worked exclusively in oral/audio format since day one. And, until the pandemic struck a year ago, I would only conduct interviews “in-person.” I was concerned that my work would grind to a halt until I, and everyone else, discovered “Zoom.” Soon after that I was asked if I’d like to host a podcast (COVID Chronicles, see the February 11 blog post) to help our church members stay connected while we were meeting virtually. I jumped at the chance and realized that if I could conduct and record a podcast via Zoom, I could also do my work virtually. 

The main thing I had to do to make this happen was to let go of my need for “perfect” audio quality and remember that “something is always better than perfection.” And while doing this work in-person is preferable, it is possible to record priceless stories even if we’re not in the same physical space. 

So, the next time you have an urge to reach out and connect, do so and then tap the “record” button on Zoom or your phone and preserve that voice and those priceless memories! What are you waiting for?

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