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BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL

“Who knows where the time goes?”  –Sandy Denny/Judy Collins/Eva Cassidy

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A Meditation and Reflection on Time:  All we did, all we have to do, all left undone.  Another year has passed, as have some friends and relatives.  Another year ahead, with or without resolutions.  But “Time Marches On…”

And:

Every person passing through this life will unknowingly leave something and take something away.  Most of this ‘something’ cannot be seen or heard or numbered or scientifically detected or counted.  It’s what we leave in the minds of other people and what they leave in ours. Memory.  The census doesn’t count it.  Nothing counts without it.”  –Robert Fulghum

Remember:

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”  –Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 

MEMORIES OF A TIME:

1941-2014

happy new year

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“When I consider how my light is spent…”–John Milton

By: James F. O’Neil

donald m murray

Donald M. Murray

“Write what you know,” Donald M. Murray (the late Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and long-time teacher) told me long ago in his book Write to Learn.  And so I practice.  Most of my personal writing is the personal-experience type: “honest, specific, and moving.”  (And many times just plain fun.) I like this approach.  The authors of these kinds of writings are authorities on the self–or selves–contained within the lines of the page.

Often, though, some writing teachers considered such efforts as non-academic, and not good writing.  I hold that “The best writing is personal writing.”  For what really is “good” or “best”?

With personal-experience writing, I do not have to become mired in academic or argumentative rhetoric to make a point.  In fact, I recall the historian Barbara Tuchman (American historian and author of The Guns of August) writing that history is the best narration–and history is the life of persons, peoples, cultures, nations.

Teacher Donald Murray wrote of students being able to “. . . discover and develop the skills of critical thinking . . . and move in close and then stand back. . . .  With immediacy and detachment, close examination, and the placing of events in perspective, there is compassion and judgment, feeling and thought.”

In addition, Robert Fulghum, author of   All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (1988), all i needed to knowdescribes various levels of writing: public, private, secret–all narrative.  For such a writing form “allows the reader to discover the subject–and the meaning of the subject.”  Then the reader and writer really have communication (a type of communion, or a “symbiotic relationship” in modern-speak: a relationship of mutual benefit).

Mr. Murray’s words bolstered me, supported me, and urged me on to continue what I have been doing since my early journal-writing years.  My best stories and anecdotes–in essence, my best writing–come from my life: from my reading and viewing, my experiencing, my observing.  I don’t think I could ever give them up and still be a writer.

© James F. O’Neil  2013

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