Everyone has a life story, and translating that story into a memoir can forge your legacy. Harvard University researchers have found that the recollection of childhood memories leads to pro-social behavior, so compiling those memories just may be your key to becoming a gentler, kinder, and more honest person.
Most people probably don’t give memoirs a lot of thought, but if you look around, you’ll see that we are surrounded by them. From the phenomenon of SMITH Magazine’s six-word memoir to the controversy incited by author James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, memoirs captivate the masses.
Memoirs run the gamut of subjects, from the mundane to the obscure to the extraordinary. They are penned by the famous, the infamous, and the unknown. They take the form of formal discourses, chatty reminiscences, and today’s most popular blogs. Some are straightforward, while others are embellished for laughs or poignancy.
“Why are memoirs so popular?” asks Dr. Ronda Beaman, author of the memoir Little Miss Merit Badge. “Why can’t people get enough People magazine, reality TV, and Facebook? Because we crave connection; we learn from the lives of others, and we all want to belong!” Beaman, a longtime proponent of memoir writing, has lectured about the process and promise of writing down our life stories.
It’s true. We’re captivated by personal stories like Eat, Pray, Love and entertaining exploits like those of prolific humorist David Sedaris, or by the controversy triggered by Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. These stories transport us from our lives to the memories and lessons of other people. And, according to Dr. Beaman, every one of us has a unique story to offer.
How do you remember your world? And perhaps just as important, are you willing to share your insight?
“Sure, memoir begins with ‘me,’ but far from being narcissistic, it is singularly the most generous gesture you can extend to your friends and family,” says Dr. Beaman. “It is your legacy.”
So make that connection. Sit down at the computer and let your memories flow. As Dr. Beaman suggests, you’ve always been the author of your own life … now is the time to share that story.