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!