Posts Tagged ‘ writing ’

Crowdsourcing My Own Biography

I have a favor to ask of you.  I want you to write something about me.  It could be anything — a memory of me, an experience weImage shared together, a relationship we have had and maintained, a relationship we had and left off, a first impression you remember about me, an overall impression of me that you have…it can be anything.  It can be good, bad, or indifferent.  I want it to be anything that you think my family, friends, or the rest of the world would want to know about me.  

Here’s the thing:  I will never know what you write.  

Every single thing that you write will be sent to a third party who is sworn to keep it sealed and locked away until my death.  Let me give you a bit of the backstory.

Since high school, my dear friend @thehandsomeweasel and I have looked ahead excitedly in anticipation of what our futures might hold.  You know — all of those “firsts” that you just can’t wait to experience, some of the “firsts” you never wanted…we approached everything new as an adventure, really livin’. However, for all of the late night political and philosophical discussions we’ve had, we are still both keenly aware of the fact that, at some point, both of our lives will come to an end.  

I have been an avid journaler for nearly 17 years now (as this link will further explain), and Weasel and I arrived at an agreement one day over beers, at least a decade ago:  If I kick the bucket first, all of my journals will be sent to him, at which point he’ll go through them, pick out some of the passages I’ve written that are really characteristic of “me,” and put them together in a book of some kind, to be given to family and friends who would want to learn a little something about me they maybe didn’t know before.  I hope to provide guidance (or cautionary tales) to my own sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, even after I’m gone.  Afterward, my tomes will be sent back to my wife, who I hope will keep them in good stead.  If Weasel pushes up daisies first, I’ll be happy to perform that same service for him, should he request it of me.  

Some whom I’ve mentioned this idea to have asked with a smirk, “What makes you so sure your wife won’t go first?”  I usually reply by mentioning that my grandparents all lived to between 67 and 77, if memory serves me, whereas Alli’s family has longevity on their side.  Her grandmother passed away a couple of months ago at 93 (I think), and her grandfather is still around and kicking at 95.  I’m fairly certain that, unfortunately, she’s going to have some time to herself.  

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The Life And Times Of Gufferson Q Grana

The entire point of this exercise is to take all of the (probably thousands by now) of pages that I’ve written and will write, and distill my life on paper down into something a little more palatable for everyone I care about to read when I’m gone.  It sounds morbid, but it’s not. I want to be remembered for something significant to those I love just like anyone else, and I figure that my journals will do that for my wife and kids (if we have any), as well as for family and friends.  (I wish my Dad had been even an “armchair” writer…there was so much locked in his head that he took with him when he passed away that I’d give anything to hear him talk about now.)  And you are about to contribute to that goal in a really meaningful way.  

So please, do this for me.  Right now.  Take a second to try and remember what you know about me.  What you like(d) about me, what you don’t (or didn’t) like, something great I did, something sh*tty I did, something I did or said to affect you…it doesn’t matter to me, I just want it to be true and authentic so that all of you who survive me in the future can look back and really get a clear picture of who I was at various stages of my life.  Once you do this for me now, you’ll send it to my friend Weasel at kevinrmarten@gmail.com (that’s Kevin R Marten @ gmail.comdon’t forget the middle R).  He will take what you send him and sock it away for later compilation.  Also, don’t forget to include your name, your relationship to me, when you knew me, how old we were when we experienced whatever you are sending him, etc.  Details like those will help make it so that you will have real ownership in the shaping of whatever my legacy turns out to be, as those details will be included in the final compilation of my biography.  When you shoot the email, be sure to put “Project SunshineBoy” in the title line, and he will know that you are sending him something related to this project.  (SunshineBoy was a nickname my Dad gave me when I was a kid, supposedly because I smiled all the time.)  Remember, I’ll never read what you write, so don’t be shy.

Also, don’t be shy about this project of mine, either.  Share this on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and whatever else is out there now.  Forward this post on to anyone you know who knows (or knew) me.  The more help I get from you, the more fulfilling it will be to read in the future, long after you’ve forgotten you did it.  It’s free, takes only a couple of minutes of your time, and really could turn out to be something wonderful because of your participation.  

Thanks in advance, and have a great week!!

The Many Benefits Of My “Diary”

I have been a journaler since I was a sophomore in high school–going on 15 years now, I guess–and it never fails to amaze me just how much better a communicator I have become by doing it.  Despite my brother and sister chiding me for keeping a “diary” since I started, the benefits are many, and here’s why.

I have learned over the years that I am terribly inartful when I react to something.  The first example that comes to mind happened only months ago, in a class I took when I first joined Keller-Williams. 

We were put into teams, and we had to complete activities to achieve certain metrics for this competition we had going.  Our scores were based on the number of people in the group (we added our numbers together, then averaged them, since the teams in the class had different numbers of people on them).  Well, we had a team member added after the competition began, and she was only there once the entire rest of the class.  It was hurting our numbers terribly to have them averaged by one more person (who was not contributing at all), and nobody on the team thought it was fair.  (It wasn’t.)Image

I raised my hand and, instead of saying something like, “We have a teammate who was added after the fact, and isn’t contributing…do you think we could find a way to make this a little more fair?”  Nooooo, not me.  I said simply, “Is there any way we can shed the dead weight?”

Some of the other students audibly gasped.  The (seasoned professional) teacher negotiated my request pretty diplomatically, but I learned something that day:  She asked me, “Wouldn’t it hurt their feelings if they foudn out they were cut from the team without having any say in it?”  My first thought was actually, “Who cares,” but I replied, “If I was doing what she is(n’t), I wouldn’t think it was fair that a team be held up because of me…”  I learned that there were two kinds of people in the room–those who worry about peoples’ feelings in the midst of a competitive situation, and those who focus on the goal and work to get it done.  I found out that I am one of the latter.  After all, fair’s fair, right?

I told you that to tell you this.  

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Not mine, but it’s close. I DO still write in cursive…

The point is that I am sometimes so terrible at reacting to things in a social setting that I find it more helpful to write about it first.  The main reason is because it forces me to really analyze what it is that I’m getting ready to write down–something about putting it on paper is a little more committal than simply blathering out whatever comes to your mind.  Not only that, I find it to be an enormous waste of time to write the thoughts that I might blather on about.  Because of this, before I’ll take the time to put it on paper, I actually sit and distill it down in my head first, so that what I put on paper will come across accurately to the reader later on (even though, who in the hell will read these, anyway?).  Once I’ve thought out my stance on a subject, and if I’ve written it down already, when the topic comes up with someone in person, it works to my advantage:  I already know what I think, why I think it, and what I plan to do next in relation to it.  

I never meant to make it sound like I’m planning my whole life like I’m preparing for a debate, but writing works with my own natural proclivity to want to be prepared for any situation.  (I hate looking like a fool due to a simple lack of preparedness, and actually try to guard against it.)

In any case, the benefits of writing are many.  Of course, there’s the ability to look back on yourself and see what has shaped you–which is always a source of introspection for me–but it’s also cathartic to vent your most secret/shameful/socially unacceptable thoughts and feelings without any fear of retribution.  It’ll literally make you a better communicator.  And yes, you do need to become a better communicator.  Everyone does.  

Pick up a pen, and put it to some paper.  It’s not as hard as you think, once the thoughts start flowing.  As a sidenote, I don’t have the money yet for an uber-expensive fountain pen or something, so I’ll tell you this:  Pilot’s .05-width tip ink pen is wonderfully smooth, accurate, and never skips, no matter the temperature.  (Don’t bother with their click-type retractable gel writers–they skip like crazy, which really serves to piss me off.  I spend four or five bucks on a pen, I better not have to say what I’m trying to say three or four times!)  Targhetto usually has them in stock, though I have seen them sold out several weeks in a row before.

What pens do you guys use?  Do you have high-quality brands that you’re fond of?  Definitely share them and why you like them–I’m in the market for a good one! 

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