Build Your Leaders

Postcard from Asheville

November 2011

I believe life is a classroom, and we’re here to learn the lessons. This month, I was thrust into an advanced class.

Lucy, my beautiful Dalmatian and constant companion for the past twelve years, had a sudden series of seizures that set her on a steady decline. She’s stable now, but for a while I thought I was going to have to put her down. My estranged ex-partner heard about it, wrote, and asked if he could visit her to say good-bye. His visit began a series of intense meetings during which I was able to release my hurt and anger and focus on the love we share. We are now friends.

Even so, I am sad; I grieve the loss of what could have been. I once heard, "Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different." I struggle to stay present. Some days I am more successful than others.

Rumi writes: “Dance when you're broken open. Dance if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.”

This month, I’ll share a fabulous exercise that I learned this month at a dinner party in Asheville. 

Your Life in Six Words

I had been looking forward to it all week. The invitation was a simple one; it came from a new friend. In it, she invited me (and four other guests) for a simple Sunday supper. She’d provide Caesar salad and paella, and we’d each bring a bottle of red wine or bar of chocolate, along with a six-word memoir.

A six-word memoir? That should be easy, I thought. After all, I’m a writer, and I was a pretty good haiku writer in high school. I was wrong. Try putting your life down in six words.

After several tries, I came up with one I felt decent about.

The dinner was a good one; my hostess was a wonderful cook. After dinner, we poured another glass of wine, opened four gourmet chocolate bars, and spread them across the across the table; then we began sharing our mini-memoirs. 

I began. “Master of ego; student of soul.”

The others followed:

“Kissed a boy; had a baby.”

“Started out certain; ended in confusion.”

“I had cancer; now I’m clear.”

“My mind wanders; like my life.”

“Wrote a poem; climbed a tree.”

We were having so much fun, we didn’t want to stop. We came up with more:

“Yes, I understand; no, I didn’t.

“Southern Gothic bride; ran like hell.”

“Black white certainty; living in gray.”

“Now I know I don’t know.”

The memoirs came one after another.

Then a woman threw one out that caused us all to pause: “I’m the one I long for.”

P.S. If you’d like to try it, I’d love to see it. Send me your six-word memoir.    

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