Right now, you are writing the story of your life. You have to ask yourself: Would anyone want to read it?
That, my friends, is the current advertisement on NZ television for Jeep. That’s right. A car company.
I actually watch very little TV, so it’s a marvel I’ve seen this at all. Normally, I wouldn’t pay any attention to the ads – in fact, they’d usually be muted – but this one stood out to me a week or so back. Not because of the awesome landscapes, or the way the car looks when it’s popped in front of it. Not because of the motion of the vehicle or the sudden desire to go on a road trip. Simply because the idea behind their voice-over slogan, all 2 sentences of it, got me thinking.
I assume that Jeep’s voice-over guy is trying to say something along the lines of “you will have an incredible, read-worthy, best seller of a story, and people will flock to get your autograph and buy extra copies for their family members for next Christmas … if you buy this car”, and that’s all very well and good. That’s advertising. Well done for yet another not-so-sneaky way of dragging people in to buy your product.
But if you take away the fact that it’s a big corporate car company trying to get you to spend way too much money on a car that’s probably like every other car of a similar design/4wd-capacity/”I will drive this vehicle up a mountain and both it and I will live to tell the tale”, then the message is rather thought provoking.
‘Right now, you are writing the story of your life.’
You know those sayings people declare. Things like ‘this is a new chapter’ or ‘I’m closing the book on my old life, and writing a new one’. All those chapter/page/book cliches that we hear over and over, and yet secretly have used ourselves because we actually love them? Well there’s something in them, especially paired up with this. If every day is a new page, every month or year a new chapter, what would be in it? Each day you’d set the scene, write the characters, highlight the ups, and journey through the downs.
Every moment of every day is part of your story – it makes you who you are. You are writing the story of your life.
‘You have to ask yourself: Would anyone want to read it?’
Even without Jeep involved, at first this is harsh. My immediate thought is ‘don’t tell me my life isn’t worth reading about!’ and ‘I don’t care if you read it or not!’ But after some thought, I came to realise that maybe it’s not a snarky remark about your story, or a slam in the face with a closing door (well, it’s an advert – maybe it is. They want you to buy a chunky car, after all). Perhaps it’s a challenge.
Perhaps it’s a challenge to make sure that every day of your life you live to the fullest you possibly can. Perhaps it’s a challenge to be in the job you love, to be with the people you love, to make a difference in the world by either the little or the big things. Perhaps it’s a challenge to be spontaneous, go on adventures, read that mind-bending book, hug your grandma, help out a friend or stranger. Perhaps it’s a challenge to look at every day as a new chapter, eagerly awaiting the story line to flow, to climb mountains, to soar … but also to hit bumps along the way and fall, to pick yourself up again, to keep moving.
Perhaps it’s a challenge to live.
You may not think your story is worth reading – I promise you it is. Even if you have never left your home town, or you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. Even if you’ve never been to the moon, or been in love. If you’ve never had a job, or you’ve never quite finished a book. You still have a story. It may not be that life changing to others, but it’s life changing to you.
Because it’s your story.
Challenge yourself to make your story worth reading – not for others, but for yourself. Imagine you’re sitting in your rocking chair on your front porch when you’re 80-odd, looking back on your life. Is your story one that you will want to read. Each day, ask yourself what Heather Small asked us back in 2000: What have you done today to make you feel proud?
That’s your story. This is your story.
A last word to Jeep: 1) well done for getting my attention, and 2) I’m still not going to buy one of your cars.
What have you done today to make you feel proud? What will you story be like?