David Brooks: “The Life Reports”

Have you been following op-ed columnist David Brooks’ columns on “The Life Reports”?

In an October 2011 New York Times column, he asked readers over 70 to send him Life Reports evaluating their lives–brief essays on “how they had done and what they had learned in the realms of private life, career, faith, community, work and self-knowledge.” He promised to publish some of them on his blog, and to write a column summarizing the reports around Thanksgiving. A man of his word, the summary column appeared on November 25th.

Several thousand people sent Brooks their Life Reports, and he published one a day on his blog. This link will take you to one essay; the “Related Links” section at the bottom of that page will deliver more Life Reports.

Resilience is the central theme of these essays, and–I’d like to think–a central lesson for all of us as we hunt and peck our way through life. Resilience is central to the concepts around understanding wisdom developed by Jeffrey Webster of Langara College, in Vancouver, B.C., which I used as a framework for several of my local memoir classes after encountering Webster and his work at the Association of Personal Historians conference in Victoria in November 2010. (Sorry, I can’t tell you the concepts–I promised Jeffrey I wouldn’t queer his research by making that information public.)

Back to David Brooks–the man I’ve loved to hate since I read his book Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There back in the 1990s. (The smugness with which he took his life path and interpreted it as a major sociological trend irritated me no end–perhaps because I’m so fond of doing that myself.)

I read his columns religiously–or anti-religiously, since I disagree with him as often as I agree. Either way, I admire his intellect. And I have to congratulate him for coming around to MY life path’s major sociological trend–personal history. The Life Reports are great reading–and inspiration for how to live resiliently.

How would YOUR Life Report read? (Hint: Don’t wait until you’re 70 to start writing one.) Written one already? Let me publish it on True Stories Well Told!

-Sarah White

About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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2 Responses to David Brooks: “The Life Reports”

  1. Sarah,
    I share your opinion of Bobos, but I have come to really love David Brooks, even if I don’t always agree with him. His intellect usually triumphs over blind ideology, which I see as a worthy goal. I am particularly fond of his online conversations with Gail Collins, a nice Cincinnati girl! I was thrilled to see him ask for Life Reports and excited to read the submissions and his take-aways. I particularly like the “Divide Your Life Into Chapters” comments. I kind of naturally do this, but never considered that it might actually be contributing to happiness! What luck!


  2. Fred A. Kahn says:

    i sybmitted an essay To David Brooks, He personally does not answer e-mails. So, I wonder about his manners. He has an assistant Md Snyder who aacknow;ledge me after 2 weeks, but I doubt David Brooks will ever read what i sent to him. In the past I jnew Ms Elenor Roosevelt with whom I corresponded about my proposal to have presidential election debates. Ihad twice meals with her. But today, people seem to be pompous. i wrote to Mr. Brooks, Canadian born in Toronto of jewish parents, about how i coped with surviving the Holocaust as a teenager through catharsis in writing articles after articles in French , German, and English in US , Belgian and German publications over the past 62 years. The firsat one published was when I was 17 in l949. I am now 79 years old. Initially , a few months old i was given in Germany where I was born to the care of a childless aunt and uncle . Mt parents moved to Belgium but expected to return and retrieve me once Hutler got kicked out of office. As you know that did not happen, so that on october 1, 1938, I was whisked to Belhium where my biological parwents lived. My foster parents were deported and murdered four years later in June 1942 at th3e extermination camp of Sobibor. I would have been killed also had i remained with them,.During the occupation of Belgium by the Germans, my parents and I lived in the underground under a false name of Lejeune. We syrvived many close calls. i emigrated to the YS in 1952, 60 tears ago, See more at http://holokauston.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/survivor-profile-fred-kahn/


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