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The 3 Selves in a Memoir










Experiencing Self

Does not know how it will turn out

Lives in the emerging present

Thus, try writing in present tense


Remembering Self

Knows how it turned out

Has made some sense out of it (or decided it doesn’t make sense)

Has conclusions that may have hardened


Reflective Self

Stands back, as a painter would looking at a canvas:

the canvas of your life

Sees anew; may see new patterns or themes

May have more questions than answers (lives in the questions)

Is open to what is emerging


Asks bigger questions than we normally find time for:


Wonders how this life fits into

    the times the ‘character’ grew up in

    the place and culture and subculture

    the influence of key people

    pivotal moments

    the human condition


The memoirist is moving
among these three selves

Each has a different gift

a different sensibility

Each is a part of the human experience

So your memoir is both yours and bigger than you

These ideas are inspired in part by the work of Daniel Kahneman, z"l

The photo is of me writing my memoir on what appears to be a fruitful day


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