What Would You Write About?

Yesterday, while procrastinating before getting to work making sure I stay informed on what's going on in
Note-80032-m the world, I ran across the story of a woman who recently died.  Earlier this spring, she started getting odd pains in her legs, and on April 15th of this year she was diagnosed with cancer and told she had but a few months to live.  Tragically, she died on July 6th, leaving six kids and a husband behind.

What made this story really different was how Amy reacted to her death sentence.  She got busy doing things for others and making sure that her family was set.  You can read about it on the blog her husband writes.  As I read the blog, I asked myself, what would I do if I were diagnosed with terminal cancer at this very moment?

The answer came swiftly: I'd start writing.

What would I write?  Well, for starters I'd write:

  • My life story, such as it is
  • Letters to everyone I loved
  • All the stories I haven't yet gotten out on paper

But, what, specifically, would I write about?  If I had only a couple months to live, what would my legacy be?  What would I most want to write?

I would want to write about the sound of birds outside my office window at this very moment, and the lush green swath of kiwi plant that I see when I glance outside.  I'd write about how perfect my daughter looked the day she was born and how scrunched up and alien-like my son looked.  And I'd write about winter days of rain in Oregon, and how much I love the sky in New Mexico.

But that would be just for starters.  Because then I'd want to write about the people I've loved in great detail, how one of my friends has the Parkinson's shuffle and stare, even though she's not yet 55, and despite it all she drags me to Zumba with her.  I'd write about each family member and friend, trying to find the key that made them sho they are to me.  I'd write about pets.  I'd write about places I lived and traveled and people I met along the way.  I'd write about objects and furniture and the things I've loved most, like paintings and sculpture and outsider art.  I'd write about orchids and knitting and how I used to love to sew, and how I adore candles and perfume and old-fashioned sachets.  How I can spend hours at the office supply store or the bookstore, but would just as soon skip grocery shopping.

I'd write about everything I could think of and then I would start to draw conclusions.  Lessons for living.  Examples of what I've figured out along the way.  Brilliant bits of advice for those who remain.

And, of course, this begs the question, why not now?  Why not just start writing all this now?  Why not wake each day and write like you don't have much time left?  Put every single damn thing you've got on the page and then write even more.  What better legacy could there be?

I think maybe its time to get started.  (And, no, I have no terminal illness.  Except tomorrow is my birthday, so perhaps it is natural to think about one's legacy on such a day.)

What about you?  What would you write about?

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8 Comments on "What Would You Write About?"

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David
Guest
07/16/2010 14:46

In light of your recent post about gratitude and the subsequent discussion, I’d like to point out that paragraph six, when you talk about what you’d write about, sounds a lot like gratitude to me. As do the several that come after. Doesn’t really matter how you state it, it is what it is.

Happy Birthday, too.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
07/16/2010 16:44

David, I guess you got me there. And thanks for the birthday wishes, I have plans to celebrate all weekend.

rebecca
Guest
07/17/2010 00:25

Happy Birthday Charlotte, hope it’s a great day and happy writing.

J.D.
Guest
J.D.
07/17/2010 04:55

Happy Birthday Charlotte. Those are probably things we should all include in our writing: a sentiment to the things in nature we appreciate, a message to those we love, the life lessons we have learned. But Charlotte you have another forty years! You can get your writing affairs in order thirty-nine years from today! As for now, you need to finish your rewrite, hang out, blog, and bend over–is it a lick for each year?

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
07/17/2010 10:24

Rebecca, thank you, it is already a great day.

J.D., thank you, too, I keep telling my kids to watch out, I’m going to live to be 100, so I’ve got a few years left in me. If I have to take a lick for each year, I am going to be very, very sore.

David
Guest
07/17/2010 18:47

Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

Moritz Lightman
Guest
Moritz Lightman
01/17/2011 15:07
Warmest Greetings, I thoroughly enjoyed your post immensely, and I would like to write about the human brain-mind system. I have studied and taught much on the mind over 40+ years and quite honestly, have not found all that much that truthfully works. However the field of brain entrainment is not one of them. I feel that exploring binaural and isochronic beats is a most worthwhile technology, and can offer speedy benefits if executed correctly. It’s still an experimental field and not all beats are equally effective, but like wine, I’m certain this will improve in time. You can gain… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest
01/18/2011 08:25

Hi Moritz, Thanks for dropping by and taking time to comment. Brain entrainment is a fascinating field and interesting technology I’d like to someday learn more about.

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