Before It’s Time

Ever have an “oh no” moment, like being away from home and closing the car door and seeing keys hanging in the ignition? It’s embarrassing, maddening, but not that big a deal once the locksmith comes to collect a fee for retrieving the keys w/o having to break the window.

Not long ago, I was about to recline on the couch about an hour after having kicked off an algorithm to format a hard disk that was giving me trouble. For some strange reason, I replayed the boot sequence and only two disks where there. Yep, “oh no”, I was zeroing out my backup disk. Almost 10 years of data, now inaccessible, I spent a week beating myself up and lamenting my inexplicable stupidity.

After having a new disk installed, and several recovery passes at each of the impacted drives, I conceded – time to suck it up, and start over. Fortunately, I’d squirreled lots of songs on CDs and sites where I could recover tracks and begin rebuilding my catalog.

Soon thereafter it dawned on me that my life wasn’t all that impacted by the data loss, and began to think, besides the music/songs I create/write, what will I leave behind? A few instruments, some books, a few bucks, but nothing with meaning that depicts our family, and extended families.

For a few months I’ve grappled with getting back into writing, starting with a weekly post (yep, I know nobody reads this stuff) as well as new songs, etc. I’ve also been exploring the framework and perspective for writing memoirs. This morning I read an essay by William Zinsser titled “How to Write a Memoir“, in which Zinsser shares points on how to find the right voice, about simplicity, perhaps most importantly, the story of how his father wrote, bound and distributed two family histories. In doing so, Zinsser’s father gave the gift of memories, facts and emotional details about his growing up, married life and who meant what to him.

The question now is, “do I have the courage to do the same”? To not only write the memoir(s) but do so before it’s time to take my final breath? To do so as an act of love for my family, as well as a means of coming to terms with my own life. Who knows, there might be a few songs that come out of the process, but most importantly, our children and theirs would have these memories to [hopefully] cherish.

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