Six Word Memoirs

The Dish landscape.JPG

There's a legend about Ernest Hemingway. He was once at a lunch party with a group of other writers, and someone bet him that he couldn't write a novel in six words. After all the other writers had put their $10 on the table, he scrawled something onto a napkin and passed it around the table.

The napkin said:

"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Hemingway retrieved his winnings.

One of the first assignments in my Creativity and Innovation class was to craft our own six word memoir. This is the type of project that usually stresses me out -- I want it to be perfect. I want the perfect six words, I want the exact right order. I want to get the punctuation right. Six word memoirs are about the closest to a level playing field I'll ever have with Ernest Hemingway.

He still won. 

I like mine though, for me. I came up with it while I was on a run at the Dish, which is quickly becoming my favorite spot around here. It's beautiful, peaceful, scenic. A good place to think and reflect and be thankful. 

Here's what I came up with: 

"Toiling, uncertainty -- then I got here." 

Not as profound as Hemingway's classified ad, but it speaks to the place I'm at in my life today and how I got here. Stanford is a major milestone in my life. I still wake up every day excited to be here. In the context of my life story, getting here and being here is the equivalent of a sigh of relief. Weight lifted off my shoulder. A major confidence boost, an affirmation of my purpose, a validation of my goals. I had doubts about myself and my abilities, and I'm not proud of the fact that I needed external affirmation to know that I was going in the right direction and that I could actually do the things I wanted to do in my life. But now I know that I can. It's easier to be happier and motivated when you know you're in control of your destiny. 

All that being said -- I hope that I outgrow this memoir. It's usually hard for me to "soak it all in." I get worried about being complacent, getting stuck. I'm naturally inclined to plan and prepare for the next thing and to keep moving the goalposts for myself. I'm obsessed with growing and getting better.

The last month has been a nice respite from stress about what comes next. I got here, and I'm doing everything I can with this opportunity, and that's been enough. But I know the reprieve from thinking about the long term is a temporary one. Eventually I'll need six new words.