6 Word Memoirs

5

Smith Magazine invites us to summarise our lives in six words – ‘Six Word Memoirs’. I thought, ‘Easy! I have the Edgeware motto, near enough to six words: make money, have fun, change the world. I could lose the article before “world” and that’s the six.’

Then I looked at the phrase as a ‘memoir’ and it didn’t feel right. It struck me that a motto, or a guiding statement of principle, or a goal, or a home truth, has to chunk things up to get to a seamless, clear whole. Life as it happens to us, though, isn’t chunked up; it’s chunked-down into its messy, fragile, wet, human, contingent moments of experience. The motto is a kind of noun, while ‘life’, the kind of thing a memoir tries to capture, is a kind of verb.

So I turned the Edgeware motto into a set of six action-oriented questions: ‘Make money’ became, “Is it economically sustainable?'; ‘Have fun’ became, ‘Is it personally meaningful?’ and ‘Change the world’ became, ‘Is it socially responsible?’ And that gave me a better handle on the ‘six word memoir’life-summary exercise.

And this is the first draft. Earned keep; Smiled often; Behaved honourably. I’m sure it’ll change as I give the exercise more thought, but these concentration/focus/decoction games can be very productive. Don’t you think?
 

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