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The Book of Your Life

Chany Rosengarten

This time of year, your personal “book” is being opened and reviewed Above. Do you know what’s inside? Can you remember all your deeds and mishaps? Memoirists and those in the habit of keeping regular diaries have a real advantage: they’re practiced in the art of capturing memories

Monday, September 26, 2011

hand
“Do you remember what you did yesterday? Or the day before? Life usually
becomes misty in retrospect, very quickly. It slips through our fingers,” says
Sarah Shapiro, a writer and memoirist. “When you write it down, you see it with
greater depth and understanding. To preserve life with words is to treasure
it.”

As we contemplate our actions from the past year,
most of us will encounter blank spots. It’s hard enough to remember our deeds
and shortcomings from the prior week, let alone all of last year. Memoirists
and even those who keep a regular diary have an advantage: By putting words
down on paper, they cement the memories in their minds, often processing the
life experience as they write.

“Those three years that I was writing a daily journal
methodically, in detail, with a passion for recording everything accurately and
as truthfully as I could, are the only ones I remember well,” says Sarah, who
wrote about her life as a young mother in her first book, Growing With My
Children
. For a long time
after she finished the memoir, she missed how her life was enhanced when she
was keeping that diary every day with devotion. “Once I stopped, it was more
hit and miss if I’d remember something.

“That book,” she adds, “is a record of what it was
like being a young mother at that stage of life, with young children. And for
my children — who now have kids the same age as they were then — it’s a record
of their childhoods.”

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