A Life In Six Words

I was recently asked by the editors of a small press to write my life story in six words and to “Be as pithy as possible.”  Seriously.  After fooling with this task for a completely ridiculous amount of time, choosing, discarding, and switching up the order of words, I grasped how revealing it is to do this.  I didn’t end up doing a very good job.  There were too many possible sets of six words; I saw the unlikeliness of picking the “right” ones.   I was wasting an obscene amount of time and drinking potato juice (some people call it vodka, but it’s much more comforting to think of it as a vegetable) didn’t speed things up at all.  Finally, I just wrote in five verbs and an adverb and pushed send so I wouldn’t be able to obsess about it any more.  And have obsessed about it ever since because I realized, based on the amount of effort I put in, that the six words I should have used are I have always tried too hard.

The runner-up six words were Why am I doing this really?  I veered away from these at the last minute because I was afraid they’d think I was being a smart aleck about their question as opposed to referring to more cosmic issues like writing and being.  With no opportunity to explain my six words, I chickened out.  But that, as well as I have always tried too hard, really would have worked well.  I ended up going with: care work love try laugh and again.  I cannot remember in what order I put them, only that the order seemed significant and that I changed it maybe 78 times.  And I’m trying not to go back and look.  I’m trying really hard to stop trying too hard.

So is this easy or crazy-making for other people?  What might your six words be?  If you’re willing, take a shot at it and post yours in the comments.


15 Responses to A Life In Six Words

  1. Hmmm-radio on with polls on election, plus rain and grey, and swearing spouse trying to be an electrician makes the words….unproductive, lazy,defiant procrastinating and concerned. I am working on what I think are the really best words for you……after a bottle of wine together we should try again.

    • Oh my! I suspect that four of those words might reflect your life for the previous six minutes, but that would be about all! Maybe hang on to “defiant” and “concerned” though…those two might work! The grape juice will help, doubtless.

  2. Revisions: I want to prevent your leave-taking.
    I want to prevent your departure. (No cheats!)

    Do you think this is about the deaths, one-by-one, of my entire original family? (!)

  3. After a weekend spent with my son’s wedding and all the festivities associated with it, I will have to say: “Aching body but love filled heart”. Amen!

  4. Love, laughter, grace and entropy – my mantra.

    Dang, that “and” puts me one word over. I’ll have to keep trying. I suppose I could lose the “entropy” since there’s nothing I can do about it – but then, that’s the point.

  5. Here’s THREE words: “Smart Alec”? Moi?


    Aside to Diana Davis: You don’t need the “and” — just drop it, and you get in right under the wire!

  6. I like Trying Hard, glad you thought of it. Here’s my six words: Trying hard and don’t know why.

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