I’ve been seeing the title “The Book of Me, Written by You” pop up in various readings over the last few days. Last night, I decided to check out exactly what it was all about.
Julie Goucher at Anglers Rest has kicked off an interesting idea: Tell your story, from your point of view, for future generations. The basic concept is that each week Julie will post a prompt or question. Participants then use that to tell their story. I’ve considered writing a sort of autobiography before, but usually end up asking myself if my children or grandchildren would really be interested. I am, after all, just a guy who goes to work every day, then comes home, then does it all again the next day.
But, so were my ancestors.
Writing about yourself seems weird at first, but wouldn’t it have been wonderful if great-great-great-grandma had written her own story down? Maybe her children wouldn’t have cared to read it, but I certainly would. So, for myself and any future folks who might be interested in reading it, I’ve decided to participate in “The Book of Me”. I can use this as a prompt to get me writing again, and perhaps one day someone will read my words and get a sense of what life in 2013 and before was like.
Prompt 1 is something that I’ve done before: Ask yourself 20 times “Who are you?”
For this one, I went back and found the notebook from a couple of years ago where I had done this exercise. At the time, I was at a low point in my life where many events came together at the same time, causing stress, heavy depression and anxiety. I was literally questioning who I was, and used this exercise to help myself focus on the important parts of my life.
Instead of twenty answers to the question, the original exercise that I had done asked for ten answers, which were than organized by order of importance. Here are my original answers.
Who am I?
I am a father – I enjoy raising my children. I value their friendship, and I am delighted by their curiosity. I’ve enjoyed watching my oldest grow into a person I can be proud of, and I like watching my youngest experiment with new toys and games
I am curious – I love to learn how things are done. New skills. I’m also curious about how people work, and why they do the things they do on an individual level
I am an artist – I enjoy being creative and bringing new things into the world. I appreciate the art and talent of others. I like being able to expand on those ideas, and to bring my visions and thoughts into a tangible form. Writing, sculpting and building are all the same
I am a craftsman – I enjoy building and working with my hands. Crafting combines my artistic and practical sides. I enjoy making something useful or different out of raw materials. I’d build a house starting with an axe and a stand of trees if I could.
I am a knowledge seeker – I love to learn and research. Once I know how something is done, I look for the next thing to learn. I sometimes lose focus when a new skill crosses my path, as I want to learn it immediately.
I am a Lost Boy – I like to play. I sometimes think that I am still 10 years old. I still make up stories and play pretend. I enjoy games and toys and stories.
I am analytical – I analyze ideas, looking at them from a practical side. At work, when ideas are tossed out, I immediately begin thinking about how it can physically be achieved. I’m frustrated by timelines that are shorter than what I know to be practical. I research my own projects, looking for the best way to achieve my goals. I try to look for the best way to solve a problem. Sometimes this leaves the problem unsolved, as I continue to look for the best answer
I am an old Vermonter – I feel connected to the mountains. I miss “the old ways” and my family. I want to keep our culture alive.
I am a husband – I chose to be.
I am a thoughtful person – I think all the time. It seems that my head is always busy coming up with new ideas or analyzing old ones, including processes that I wish could be better.
Could I add ten more items to this list? Probably, but they would all be variations on the same theme. Looking back at this list from a few years ago, I find that my answers are still basically the same. In short, I’m an artsy/crafty family man with an intellectual side. While it’s true that I go to work each day, then come home, then repeat the routine again, you can see from my answers that work is not who I am. Work is just what I do to earn a living. This is something that I'll keep in mind as I research my ancestors. They may have been listed as "tinsmith" or "farmer" on paper records, but it's likely they were so much more than just their occupations.