Read on Edge: Moments of Transcendence

Marion Roach Smith Memoir Project

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Yesterday morning, my oldest son taped several pieces of computer paper together to make a banner. “We’re celebrating Love Day, Mom.”

I put grapes into a plastic baggie. “We already had Love Day, honey.” I snapped shut his lunchbox, and placed a waffle on his plate. “Valentine’s Day was in February. Now eat.”

He rested both hands on his cheeks, and leaned forward. “No, Mom. Love Day. The day we celebrate the people we love who died.

The water continued to run, the dog snored in the next room, and my eyes pooled. At last, he had mentioned her. For the first time since we had returned from her funeral. Five months ago.

It was  a moment of transcendence. And I almost missed it packing lunches.

This, if for no other reason, is why I write. Because I must pay attention to these small moments.

Marion Roach-Smith, in our book club selection– The Memoir Project, states:

No writer should aspire to being too cool to care about the small stuff. Doing so is an offense to us all.

In an era where reality-show vixens and Jersey Shore goombas get book contracts, it can be hard to take on the art of memoir. It’s easy to doubt the power of our stories. Can we write if we haven’t faced death, or abuse, or if we haven’t Eaten, Prayed, and Loved ourselves to a higher existence?

Of course we can. And we must. Roach-Smith notes, in one of my favorite lines,

Transcendent revelation can occur eating Girl Scout cookies, if your head’s in the right place.

Because even if we ARE writing about death, abuse, eating, praying, or loving, it’s the small details of the big experiences that make a moment resonate.

I may not remember the songs of my mother-in-law’s funeral, or the particular arrangement of the flowers. But I’ll always remember a five year old boy,  taping computer paper together, and crafting a banner to let his Grandma Laurie know that he’ll never forget her.

Especially on Love Day.

Own your stories. Own the power of those small moments, and how they can weave together  the most colorful and textured life. Pay attention. You already have the story you need.

Like what you’re reading? Marion Roach-Smith has much more wisdom to share. Join us as we read The Memoir Project. I’ll discuss aspects of it each Wednesday. Meet us as well for a Twitter chat next Wednesday, the 28th, at 9:30 PM EDT. We’ll discuss chapters 1-3, as well as other aspects of the writing life (read: join us even if you aren’t reading!) Use the hashtag #writeonedge

See you then!


10 Responses to Read on Edge: Moments of Transcendence
  1. Masala Chica
    March 21, 2012 | 4:04 am

    What a precious moment and gift that you listened and pushed him to explain a bit more this morning. Kids have so much to say but we often assume we know what they mean or cut them off and fill in the words, and often times, life for them – all with good intentions.

    That you had the foresight and your son had the depth to go there says a lot.


  2. Ash
    March 21, 2012 | 6:13 am

    Oh the stories of your dear, delicious boys. Love Day. Adore.

  3. angela
    March 21, 2012 | 6:37 am

    As someone who doubts her ability to write compelling memoir, this gave me chills and will reverberate in my gut all day.

    And oh, Love Day. Oh. The way he has taken something so complicated and made it so simple of a tribute takes my breath away.

  4. Kir
    March 21, 2012 | 6:47 am

    this is exactly how I am feeling lately. Because I often think, should I write about “that’ or “that” …I could pull that card from my deck and get more readers and lay myself bare for the whole world to judge, but do I want to do it for just the sake of writing it?

    and then I think, my life is meaningful with and without it. My story, my tale is worth telling if i don’t have the stuff others have to define them.
    It’s why I wrote about my 2nd half on Monday, and have been trying to just take the days in, the conversations with my sons, the ah ha moments of everyday. It’s that STUFF that makes it meaningful.

    LOVE DAY, what a simple and perfect way to say hello to the people we love who are not with us anymore. I adore this sentiment.

  5. NatureGirl
    March 21, 2012 | 10:41 am

    I just finished The Memoir Project and I will never be the same. My writing certainly will not. And even if the changes don’t really make my writing better, it made writing better for me, and it made me better.

  6. Lisa
    March 21, 2012 | 11:11 am

    Wow! This was beautiful. I love how you were able to pull me into that moment with your small son. What a sweet heart for thinking of his grandma on his new “Love Day” holiday.

  7. Astra
    March 21, 2012 | 11:58 am

    Love Day … this post will serve to remind me to pause occasionally during my mundane daily tasks, lest I too may miss moments of transcendance . I recently finished reading The Memoir Project as well. I think it’s time for a re-read!!

  8. Elaine A.
    March 21, 2012 | 12:50 pm

    These moments can happen when we least expect them. No doubt about it. And what a sweet boy you have… :)

  9. Jessica
    March 21, 2012 | 7:58 pm

    Oh Love Day… I needed to read this. My kids are so different, one grasping at ways to have a “Love Day” every day for her sister and the others barely saying a thing. I can imagine how important the creation of Love Day is for you. xo

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