Wednesday, September 15, 2004

And Who Would Read it Anyway?

My buddy William Johnson suggested to me today that I write an auto-biographical book chronicling my life's (mis)adventures and how I arrived at where I am today, both materially and philosophically. He suggested that my failures along the way might be as instructive to readers as are any successes I have been fortunate enough to achieve.

Yes, my failures. Hmmm. I've had a few of those, far too many to chronicle here, nor would I want to do so. Bill suggested (presumably so I wouldn't make a total fool of myself) that I could make the book 'semi-autobiographical,' in the sense that I could include nominally stories not just of my own ineptitude but of others as well. That way, readers might well conclude that some of the more absurd stories chronicled in the pages of the book might have happened to some other poor, misguided loser, not me. Of course, they would be wrong.

It is true that some things simply happen to us and we have no control over if and when we might be either blessed or afflicted. Mostly, however, we are architects of our fortune or misfortune. Drop out of school and you increase your chances of becoming a short-order cook rather than a brain surgeon. Climb on board Brandi, the school's good time girl, and don't be surprised if your thingie turns green. You know, actions have consequences. Yes, that is an old-fashioned notion but that doesn't keep it from being true.

Yep, I've done a lot of things that I probably shouldn't have done. I've also done a few things of which I am very proud. I haven't done very much of which I am ashamed. It is possible to do things which are demonstrably stupid without their necessarily being wrong. It might be stupid to stay up all night before a final exam or before a corporate presentation is due, but it isn't necessarily wrong in a moral or ethical sense.

So, if I ever do follow Bill's suggestion, I would likely tell all, or at least nearly all. I wouldn't name names or write anything nasty about other people, but I would likely be merciless on myself.

Why? In order to guide yourself through life, you need to know where you've been. You need to know why you did what you did, went where you went, said what you said. Then, knowing your failures, you can correct the preconceptions that caused them.

There is no shame in being wrong. You make a mistake. You learn from the mistake. You avoid repeating the mistake. There is, however, something very wrong with not accepting responsibility for your mistakes. You caused it? You fix it.

What all this means is that I wouldn't really change anything in my life, even if I had to relive everything exactly as it happened the first time, to guarantee arriving again where I am today.

Will I ever write everything down, for all the world to see?

That depends. Would anyone buy the book? Who would be interested in my life? Even my son, who used to listen to my stories with rapt attention when he was younger, has to make an effort to stay tuned when we talk. Maybe it's because he has heard nearly every story fifteen times.

If I ever do write such a book, you can be very sure that my friend William Johnson will have to read it, cover to cover, and I will be standing by with an electric cattle prod to make sure he doesn't doze off while doing so.

By the way, my company produces ebooks of several of Bill's novels. Find them here. They won't put you to sleep.

1 comment:

  1. Anyone who has had the good fortune to have been able to make significant changes in the direction of his life like you have done, and still come out the other end to be a caring human being, has the obligation to reflect on how you did this. The majority these days want more for less, and are willing to be satisfied with accepting less in buyout agreements so they can start living again. These are the type of non-productive souls who will benefit from your assessment of life's journey, because you have done the work for them. Don't let that keep you from examining the years of trying to learn what life is about. It is the journey that really matters, not the arriving. You set a great example for strivers. Now tell us how you did it, and don't let the fact there may be no one to buy your book. I will be your first customer, and you can forget using your cattle prod.