With the passing of the years most of us are less and less inclined to look at the face in the mirror. Nevertheless behind that face there is a mind and within that mind a giant bank of memories to make a story - a life story unique unto itself; compelling if ever it is told with humility and, above all, with truth. The truth and nothing but the truth as best it be recalled.
Naturally, such a tale will not - can never - claim to be the whole truth. Not even if told in as much fine detail as that famously semi-autobiographical Ulysses, a substantial book encompassing the life of a single man on a single day in Dublin town. Nobody wishes to hurt friends, family, even oneself! Nobody, that is, other than James Joyce.
About a year after my being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer my youngest son said he enjoyed reading my occasional blogs. But because I, his father, obviously enjoyed writing them, why not blog about your life? he suggested, adding that people seldom know very much about their parents’ early lives and are always curious. (He might well have been fed up with the rantings against the world of a grumpy old man but would have been too polite to say so!) So I started blogging in November 2014. It took me about a year to cover, through eighty four irregular essays my life between the years 1939 and 2015. The autobiographical SO WHAT? is the paperback / e-book compendium.
I wrote about the things I have done and those I have left undone, the things I have seen and those I wish not to have seen. I wrote down my thoughts along the way as best I can recall them. And, as I am a writer, I wrote with as much attention to the structure and musicality of language as I could muster.
But why should one put oneself through the toil and sometime pain of remembering and producing, with as much care as one can, a hundred thousand word autobiography? It has nothing to do with ego. There are warts in abundance within the life described and I can hardly be proud of them. Truth is, I found the writing experience cathartic, even therapeutic in itself. I reckon you or anybody would find the same.
But, I hear you say, I am no celebrity. Why should anyone be interested in me? To that I say two things: firstly that you are writing primarily to and for your very own self. If another or others are looking over your shoulder, fine. Secondly, that your autobiography should be a celebration not so much of you as of life itself. Whether you are called Beckham or Smith, whether you are or were rich or poor, talented or not, mainly a good person or mainly the opposite, your story is unique. Written well and with honesty it can be of singular interest, therefore of value to others. But what about my carefully protected privacy? you ask. Well, sorry, in this man’s view privacy is largely illusory in these cyberatic times of ever greater public intrusivity. In any case there will be no such thing as privacy when one is finally standing before that golden gate. When I am at that time asked questions I can refer the questioner to SO WHAT? The answers are mostly there - as could be yours.
p.s. The photo at top is my very first shot at a selfie. No too dusty, huh?