Wayne Bennett, former coach of the Brisbane Broncos, published a book in 2002 called ‘Don’t Die With the Music In You’. Apparently nobody was more surprised than Bennett when the book became an outstanding success and grossed more than a million dollars in sales in the first eight months.
Bennett didn’t write his book for financial gain; he wrote it to tell the story of his love for family and football.
A quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes provided the inspirational title for Bennett’s book, and it is a quote we would all do well to live by.
Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr
Bennett received letters from hundreds of readers who told of life-changing events from reading his book, including:
- a schoolboy bullied at school found the courage to confront his tormentors
- a Vietnam Veteran found the inspiration to turn his life around
- an elderly man found strength while reading the book to his dying wife
Bennett just wanted to tell his story, and that story will continue to inspire thousands of readers for years to come.
The story that is in all of us must be told sooner rather than later, because none of us knows when our clock will strike midnight for the last time.
For some of us, later never comes.
Don’t think your story isn’t important…
Bennett’s book wasn’t of epic proportions; his story was told in 192 pages measuring 205mm x 135mm. And that’s not a lot of words – as successful books go.
Your story could be less words than Bennett’s and still have the same effect as his words had, and continue to have.
You might not have coached a successful football team, but your story is just as important. It’s the people you have met on your life journey and the ideals that brought you to where you are today that matter.
Have you lived in the same house, on the same street, in the same city all your life?
The world you navigated within those walls, and in your neighboured as it evolved, will resonate with others:
- What kept you close to home?
- What changes happened around you in your home, your street, your neighbourhood?
- Who are or were the significant people in your life?
- Are there regrets?
Were you a wanderer?
- How far from home did you roam?
- Why did you leave?
- How old were you when you left?
- Where did you move to?
- Did you go back to your hometown?
- Are there regrets?
Do your children know?
How much does your family know about what inspired you?
What will they wonder about, and wish they knew, when you are gone?
I’m retired now and have the time to write my parent’s stories, but there is so much I don’t know about them.
If only they had written their stories before they left us; if only I’d asked more questions. Now there is nobody left to ask about their early lives.
Bennett‘s story made more than a million dollars
Kathie and I met on the first day of high school and have been best-friends ever since, but Kathie lives in Melbourne and I’m in Northern New South Wales. With the aid of technology we are writing our stories alone, but together.
Like Bennett, we don’t expect millions of dollars in sales or even movie rights to our book (although we are open to fame and fortune); we will be successful (and grateful) if our book only reaches our immediate families.
Our families will find out why I didn’t become a smoker, thanks to life-lessons under the school hall taught by thirteen year old friends.
They will find out the real reason Kathie left home to join the Air Force at eighteen.
And they may even discover the raw emotions that led Kathie and I to marry our respective spouses, only to abandon our marriages later in life.
What memories will you share?
Do your children know how their parents met?
Have you shared the pain of leaving loved ones behind to travel to battle-fields far from home?
Will your great-great-grandchildren know about the ancestors who forged the way for their existence? And do they know it might be in their DNA to follow the same occupation or life-path you followed decades earlier?
Now is the time to tell your story
We should all take the lead of Wayne Bennett and pen our story before it is too late.
Even scrappy notes left behind in a folder could fill in the blanks when your descendants are writing their family history.
A thumb-drive that contains the recorded history of your lifetime could be gold to future generations. Hearing your voice could provide sweet comfort to someone mourning your loss. And the retelling of significant events could provide the bridge between your era and theirs.
Write it down, record it on storage media, scratch out some notes – it doesn’t matter how you tell your story, just tell it!
Writing and publishing ‘Don’t Die With The Music In You’ means Wayne Bennett won’t take his story with him when he departs this earthly sphere.