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Lions Roar : March 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2008 52 TTHERE IS NOTHING STIFF about memoir. It’s not a chronological pronounce- ment of the facts of your life: born in Hoboken, New Jersey; schooled at Elm Creek Elementary; moved to Big Flat, New York, where you attended Holy Mother High School. Memoir doesn’t cling to an orderly procession of time and dates, marching down the narrow aisle of your years on this earth. Rather, it encompasses the mo- ment you stopped, turned your car around, and went swimming in a deep pool by the side of the road. You threw off your gray suit, a swimming trunk in the backseat, a bridge you dived off. You knew you had an appointment in the next town, but the water was so clear. When would you be passing by this river again? The sky, the clouds, the reeds by the roadside mattered. You remembered bologna sandwiches made on white bread; you started to whistle old tunes. How did life get so confusing? Last week your seventeen-year-old told you he was gay and you suspect your wife is having an affair. You never liked selling industrial-sized belts to tractor companies anyway. Didn’t you once dream of being a librarian or a pastry chef? Maybe it was a landscaper, a firefighter? NATALIE GOLDBERG’s bestseller Writing Down the Bones inspired thousands to take up writing as a spiritual practice. Now she teaches us the art of memoir. In this exclusive excerpt from her new book, Old Friend from Far Away, Goldberg offers some lessons on exploring and understanding our personal history. Write Your Life OILONCANVAS,173/4X153/4INCHES.GIFTOFHARRYWALDRONHAVEMEYERANDHORACEHAVEMEYER,JR.,INMEMORYOFTHEIRFATHER,HORACEHAVEMEYER1962.10.1 MAR 52-57.indd 52 MAR 52-57.indd 52 12/19/07 2:14:29 PM 12/19/07 2:14:29 PM