Thursday, February 12, 2009


I read an article about writing your own memoirs. Many people will say that there isn't anything interesting to write about. On the surface, it may seem that way. However, if you really look at your life you might be amazed. Ask a relative if they can think of anything about your life that seems interesting. Sometimes a person on the outside can see things we don't. I thought about the whole memoir idea. I know that I had wished my parents had written one. They've been gone for many years now. Most of their contemporaries are gone too. Looking at it this way, I realized something. Writing your memoirs is something you not only do for yourself, you do it for your children or future generations to see what life was like "then". You have to see your life from different angles. For example, you are and were witness to history. You can describe what it was like to witness the moon landing on TV or the events of 9/11/2001. You can describe the nation's passion during the 2008 election. Writing about your life helps you see things anew. It can be very healing and cathartic. It also gives your children, if you have any, insight into who you really are. My mother had a diary which helped me see the kind of person she was when she met my father. My grandmothers both told many fascinating stories about their lives in the first part of the 20th century. My son loved reading about one of our ancestors during the 1800's for his ethnic heritage project. I realized that this ancestor's whole life boiled down to general anecdotes passed down from his contemporaries and public records. Did it depict who he really was? Do I want my life remembered that way? Some future genealogist would write that I published a book, bought a house and car and graduated college. They may be able to note where I worked and what my income was. Is that all there is to say about me? ...Not by a long shot! Set the records straight. Write about who you are, what you've done and what you've witnessed. You don't have to chronicle every little detail. A memoir is about significant events in your life. A biography chronicles your life from start to finish. Even a biography leaves out many details. If you feel your life was boring, you may want to recall your feelings at witnessing a major event. It could be a world shattering event or just a vacation to someplace amazing. Your memoir doesn't have to be published to be significant. There was a 96 year old lady who wrote her memoirs and passed it out to relatives. The relatives found it captivating and learned so much about this amazing lady that they had never known.
Socrates once said, "An unexamined life is not worth living."
Let the world know that you were here. Some future genealogist or archaeologist just might discover your memoir and use it in understanding life in the 21st century. At the very least, a page from your memoir might accidentally escape through an open window. The breeze might take it to parts unknown, where, a despondent individual just might pick it up and read it as he stands on the ledge of a high rise contemplating his fate. Then, just maybe, said individual might have an epiphany and change the course of his entire life by leaving the ledge. He just might realize maybe his life wasn't so bad after all. He could have been you. Or, conversely, he could actually be inspired to be you!


Carl said...

Wow, I never looked at it that way. I may just have to do that.

Tanya said...

Writing about witnessing historic events is a great idea. I read a book about a lady who survived the Titanic. I learned a lot that wasn't printed in official documents about the events.