“I think we are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not,” she wrote. "Otherwise, they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.” Joan Didion
I’ve spent most of my adult years chronicling my life in various guises…as an essayist, reporter, author and teacher. What I learned and shared has been disseminated in newspapers and magazines, self-help books and young adult novels, colleges and speaking engagements. Because I was fortunate enough to have a monthly column that anchored a Long Island publication for over twenty years…and have nurtured those committed to getting the stories of their lives down before they evaporate for most of that time…I’ve had the distinct and lovely opportunity to review not only my own history, but that of hundreds of my students.
Writing how we feel about what happened to us along the way is sort of a preemptive strike how we’ll be remembered by future generations. What a gift it is to hand down the story of how you met the love of your life, how you stood up to the meanest kid in the neighborhood, what you ate on Tuesday nights in elementary school. What great lessons our lives have to teach about handling tough times, overcoming obstacles and surviving mistakes. About the indescribable rewards of appreciating, loving and forgiveness.
The truth trumps the facts any day. What happened on a certain day has little to do with what actually went on and everything to do with how we felt about what went on. Who cares if the person sitting next to us that day 30 years ago disagrees about who started that fight. Our memory is our truth.
If you stop to think about it… and that’s all that writers do… you would all rightfully be amazed at how well you’ve handled what life has thrown at you. I know you might not see yourself as extraordinary…but you are.