Unravelling the Mystery of You

After decades of keeping a secret so large he can hardly believe it himself, he needs to tell his story, to know who he really is.
— Jesse Kornbluth
These sentences appeared on Jesse Kornbluth’s electronic concierge service, Headbutler.com in a review of the book, The Mascot: Unraveling the Mystery of My Jewish Father's Nazi Boyhood, by Mark Kurzem. I urge you to click over to Headbutler.com and read the whole review for yourself, then pick up a copy of the book — or urge your library to do so.

Although this book bears the name of Mark Kurzen as author, it was written at the request of his father, Alex, who felt the need to unburden his soul by revealing the past, and he chose his son as the instrument of doing so.

I have not yet read the book, though I have ordered it. I don’t need to read it to recognize the truth in Kornbluth’s words about the motive behind it: Alex Kurzen needs to tell his story to know who he really is.

To me, that crystallizes the essence of lifestory writing: to learn more of who we are through the telling of our stories.

Many people will find it sufficient to tell their stories orally to become more self-aware, but those who take the time and make the effort to write those stories, and to keep writing them until they become organized, coherent, and complete, will gain the most insight of all. Their souls will be lit by the brilliance of Inner Truth. That insight becomes a powerfully moving force, capable of making a difference in your life and the lives of those who read your words.

Many people may read the preceding paragraph and think
That’s fine and good if your past was as flamboyant as Abe Kurzen's, filled with fantatic experiences. What Truth could be found in the story of someone who spent forty years working rotating shifts on a production line? My life is no different from thousands of others. It would put anyone to sleep!

Production worker, grocery clerk, stay-at-home-mom, insurance sales representative, corporate CEO. It doesn’t matter what work you’ve done, how glamorous it’s been, or how highly regarded or compensated you were. Writing about your life, if only for yourself, can bring out the color and nuances. You can discover small sources of joy, and put regrets in perspective by reliving them in ink. Besides, work and lifestyles that seem deadly dull today will be fascinating to people fifty or a hundred years from now who won't be able to imagine life as we know it and wonder how we went about our days. If you don't tell them, who will?

I urge you to heed Jesse’s words. Slay your Inner Censor, then tell your story and learn more of who you are. You may be surprised at some of the things you discover.

Write now: on disposable paper, about your deepest secret. What is it? Why is it a secret? What would happen if people (specific people, or people in general) found out about it? When you are finished, if you have any concern about anyone finding and reading it, burn it or shred it. The simple act of writing will have empowered you and begun a process of self-discovery.

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal


EmKay said...

Having secrets can be an emotional thrill and, at the same time, an incredible burden. For the thrill, you must devote a significant amount of energy to remember every nuance and every shadow and glint of the secret while keeping yourself from blurting at inopportune moments. For the burden, it is the realization of how others will perceive you or the object of your secret if they know. Writing is a way of unloading and exploring why you feel something is a secret, and if it must be kept confidential, it is a way of relieving the energy spent picking at it like a scab for fear you might forget.

JoJo said...

Some of my best therapy has been on the keyboard. Some of my most huge fears have been diminished there. When I read of other's lives I think how brave, how wonderful, how terrible, how bizarre. Thus we develop pen names......or those of us who are chicken do. Most of my best stories involve people who would not likely be happy to be the focus of my stories in the method they will be written of. And without their participation both my life and my writing would have been pretty bland........