The question for today: You’re writing your autobiography. What’s the opening line or lines?
Whether this is strictly a “freedom question” or not depends entirely on you. What sums you up? What introduces you to people who may have no idea who or what you are? Where and how are you rooted? What’s the biggest grabber of your life? (Or something like that.)
The writer William Alexander Percy’s autobiography opens, “My country is the Mississippi Delta, the river country.” Given that Percy was the scion of the family that developed and for decades ruled the delta, and that his status was a blessing, a curse, and a prison to him all his life, that’s good.
Tennis star Andre Agassi, who retired from the sport in agonizing pain, wrote, “I open my eyes and don’t know where I am or who I am. Not all that unusual — I’ve spent half my life not knowing. Still, this feels different. This confusion is more frightening. More total.” Maybe not a summation of a life, but quite an attention-getter.
Nelson Mandala wrote: “Apart from life, a strong constitution, and an abiding connection to the Thembu royal house, the only thing my father bestowed upon me at birth was a name, Rolihlala. In Xhosa, Rholihlala literally means ‘pulling the branch of a tree,’ but its colloquial meaning more accurately would be ‘trouble maker.'” Pretty apt summation.
Ronald Reagan began, “If I’d gotten the job I wanted at Montgomery Ward, I suppose I never would have left Illinois.” (The man did have a droll sense of humor and a career that sure took him places he never set out to go.)
FWIW, it took me days to come up with my own, and even now I can’t decide between two possibilities:
So they thought I was a bad seed? Fine. I would do everything I could to make such “badness” grow and flourish.
The best day of my life was that day I realized everything I’d been taught was a lie.