Someone assumed I’d soon die because that’s what old people do. Being ‘really old’, I could expire at any moment. So I was asked to write my life story.
Ticking time bomb that I am due to advanced age (I’m over 40), I actually considered writing it. The only stories anyone hears are the stories that get told. I don’t want anyone telling my story for me. It would be like having someone else sketch me. Someone fascinated with Salvidor Dali.
But I didn’t want to tell it. I’ve never much wanted to. Or if I did, I’d only make it a few pages before realizing that telling the whole story would be an embarassment or a downer. Embarassment because of the slowness of my social intellect, and a downer because of the consequences of living on a planet with all four kinds of people. It can get dicey.
But I’m here. I’m at the happiest and longest continuous stretch of excellent days of my entire life. There have been long periods of other kinds of experience and all of them were spice in the mix and had their place. It calls to mind the Indian poem that in part translates, “Our actions still pursue us from afar, and what we have been makes us what we are”.
The stretches of nail biting danger didn’t make me what I am, but how I dealt with them did.
The downright ugly personalities along the way didn’t make or break or shape me, but how I responded to their madness hugely impacted my views. Even better, they proved me. Say anything you want about how you’d deal with the ill behaved, the proof is not in talk.
A fellow recently reported his lack of progress to me. A year ago he was writing a book and as of today he has roughly zero pages written. He has had some trouble getting it just right. I told him to write first, correct later. I told him to stop worrying about what his audience wants or doesn’t want and start telling the story. He only has one follower: himself. There’s his audience. He wanted to describe to me the story and the great lessons it would teach, but I wouldn’t listen to any of it. I asked him instead if he would rather hear his favorite warbler at the mic, or would he rather hear her describe the song she hopes to write?
In a way, I’m as misdirected as he sounded. I don’t want to write about the dismal times, or the times when others soared while I could only walk.
But where do mountains come from? And what does food grow out of. Where are gemstones found?
They all come from low places. Gemstones come out of the lowest.
It is the painting that interests most people who love art, not the process to get it made.
We are content to know how people are rather than delving into how they got that way, and that’s a good thing.
There’s a reason why babies spend their gestational months out of sight, why food should be chewed mouth closed and why bathrooms have doors.
The mechanics of many necessary processes are simply not pretty.
But when someone asks for a written life story, it may be the best compliment. Similar to asking for a recipe, it may just mean “I want to turn out like you (in some way or another) and want to pick up some pointers.”
So if the journey was past a landfill, through a nasty neighborhood, and up some steep hills and I made it intact, knowing some of the details could pull others through their own obstacle course.
Now that I have a better opinion about it’s value, one day, I may actually write that tome just like I drew my own portrait. No drooping clocks.