An essay titled “Bittersweet” appears in my book, A Year In Words. It relates to and connects disparate but significant events that happened in my life on the same day, nine years apart (December 4, 1991 and December 4, 2000).
This week marks the anniversary of both those days, and every year, December 4 lives up to the title of that essay. If you aren’t familiar with it, “Bittersweet” travels back and forth between the day I proposed to Joan in 1991 and the day my father died in 2000.
I bring this up because on the morning I wrote “Bittersweet” -- December 4, 2013, five months into my year of writing daily personal essays -- it made me understand the power and value of our stories, how they affect us, shape us and continue to live on in us. When I started my writing project, it was for no one but myself, and over time, others came along for the ride (and for that, I’m grateful).
But no other essay represents the truly personal nature of that project, and the power of stories, than “Bittersweet.” Ironically, it’s the piece that has received the most comments of any I’ve written.
In recent weeks and months, a number of people have asked me the following question, “What’s your goal with all this?” (“All this” being writing essays and sharing them with anyone willing to read them.) I love that question because it goes directly to the reasons I started writing for myself in 2013, first every day, and now less frequently but still at least on a weekly basis. And it’s this (or these):
· I love to craft a story, and I found that often, the best place to begin is with one’s self.
· I want everyone to know we all have meaningful stories that deserve to be told, written down
or recorded (whether anyone else reads or hears them or not).
· I want to prove that often some of the best stories – whether they’re mine, yours or someone else’s – come from the smallest moments in a day, random thoughts or “nuggets” of an idea (maybe a single word).
· I want to have fun recreating my stories and sharing them with you (whoever “you” are).
· I want to document my thoughts, observations and life experiences so they aren’t lost forever, like so much of my dad’s life story was lost because he didn’t write any of it down or tell it to others.
I could go on and on about writing, why it’s important to me and why I love it so much. But for once in my life, I think I’ll just leave it at that.
I’m glad I wrote “Bittersweet,” and I’m glad I shared it with others. It’s an important day in my life, and when I think about December 4 or re-read that essay (which I will do numerous times this week), it reminds me of both the strength and fragility, the joy and sorrow, of life. And that, friends, is also what makes a great story.
And it makes me grateful I decided to start writing my stories in 2013 because that essay – among all others – I view as a precious gift to myself. And I would encourage anyone – regardless of your interests, talents or the tools you have at your disposal – to start writing or telling your stories because no matter your background, beliefs or acumen for the spoken or written word, your stories, those unique to you and only you, are just as precious as mine are to me.
© 2019 David R. Haznaw