A life written in 6 words, a condensation of time
Some weeks ago an individual in one of my LinkedIn Groups posted a challenge: write your life story in six words.
I actually spent one semester in college learning how to write a one-page term paper. I believe it was a psychology course, but I remember that it was a very challenging course. When the instructor told us the scope of the class and that the only grade to be received was the grade on the term paper, every student mouth gaped open for what seemed an eternity.
At the end of the class I truly appreciated the course material and received an "A" for my effort. It was a grade of which I will be forever proud.
The challenge question definitely took me back in time, but limiting my answer to just six words led to prolonged thought. I remember the six words I used, but I wonder now if that story could be improved.
What set of criteria does one use to answer such a challenge? Surely there is more to one's life that the number of years lived to date. The story of a life is not what one lists on a resume. The information contained on a resume certainly contributed to one's life, but that does not a story make.
Does family help define a life story? A family, or the lack of a family, contributes to the experiences and choices one makes in life, but again, not a life story.
What about work experience? Well, people like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Nobel Peace Prize winners, inventors and scientists can certainly claim their work experience contributed to their life stories, but people invent things, win prizes and cure diseases throughout their lifetime.
Age can be a good criteria, but you can not really determine a "cut off" age. No one knows how long their life will last. If death is used to determine the time when a life's story can be written, the story becomes a report...an obituary or a biography and is third-party written.
When do you write an autobiography?
That question is purely subjective. Would I write an autobiography? No; I cannot imagine anyone wanting to read my autobiography. My opinion is that one writes an autobiography upon the completion of a noteworthy goal. Just because an autobiography is written is no guarantee the material will be found interesting, and yet if someone considered a celebrity writes an autobiography, a publisher will be found or the book will be self-published, and depending upon the celebrity the books will fly off the shelves and go into multiple printings.
What I'd want someone to know about my life
There are things about my life I would share for "public consumption":
- I have reinvented my life no less than 4 times. Typically, a reinvention occurs after a major life event. Major life events mostly fall into the "challenge" category, and although challenging I always find gratitude for the events and the ability to rise above in the guise of a stronger person.
- Like everyone else, I have made mistakes, lots and lots of mistakes. I have learned from these mistakes. Learning from mistakes is infinitely better than reliving the pain caused by the mistake.
- I am greatly blessed to have family and friends who love and support me, children and grandchildren who love, respect and also admire me, the unconditional love of a dog (although technically I accept I am her #2 person), and a husband who is in every way exactly the life partner and love that I need and want.
- I have found great happiness in my life through many avenues. Life is, afterall, a path one follows. I have been blessed with opportunities of choice. I have been blessed with a certain amount of talent. I have been blessed.
- Here are the six words about my life that matter:
Reinvented, challenged, enlightened, and blessed: Alive!