Could you summarise your life in only six words?
WITH everyone feeling time pressure, I was intrigued by the concept of a book of six-word memoirs.
Written by the famous and the unknown, they were utterly entertaining, sometimes quite poignant, at other times humorous, often reflected shortcomings, and definitely suited my attention span.
Their brevity undoubtedly would appeal to many postmodern readers.
Most amazing was how a few well-chosen words could reveal so much about an individual. So I thought it would be fun to ask my friends and family how they would summarise their lives in six words.
A disabled family member wrote: “Active life, then it all stopped.”
A friend who miraculously survived a brain tumour and most recently returned from a three-month holiday wrote: “Lucky life, lived, loved, laughed lots.”
A quiet, unassuming fellow showed insight with: “Led from behind. Watched things happen.”
The automatic response of a professor I emailed came back that he was out of the office.
Later I received his offering: “I’m afraid it would be as stated in my out-of-office message: ‘Travelling, getting nowhere fast’.”
And he further commented: “Even saved two words to cut down time.”
Along this same vein, another friend, in his 80s, said he was happy to provide his memoir in two words: “Exit laughing.”
So for some, even a six-word recapitulation of their life seemed excessive. The theme of travel was shared in a number of responses: “Travelled the world, currently lost in transit” and “Psyche and soul, finding own trail”.
A psychologist commented: “This is great literature in six words! It works... you can sort the people into types on just those words. I’m still working on mine. In fact, I just found them: ‘I am still working on it’.”
This theme was echoed by others: “I’ll have to think about it”, “This is hard. I must stew.”
My husband thought I should stop asking people because it was too personal and intimidating. Perhaps he was right – most people didn’t respond to my invitation.
Others seemed very much caught up in their predicament: “I’m happy with ex. He died.”
Many were philosophical: “Mediocre at everything, had fun trying.”
My husband responded with: “Tried hard, but usually failed badly.”
I asked him to write mine: “Succeeded often, despite her dire prediction.”
Then I wrote my own: “Felt everyone’s tsores and my own.” (“Tsores” is Yiddish for “hardships”.)
I got brave and asked some patients how they would summarise my medical care in six words.
“Should have gotten the extended warranty,” and, even more apt, “You’ve been excremental in helping me”.What would your six-word memoir be?
Let me know, if you dare.