Saturday, October 6, 2012

Do you know the one sentence of your life?



Several weeks ago I read Justine Musk’s post entitled, “Do you know the one sentence of your life?” and I was immediately smitten. I loved the idea of thinking, really long and hard about my life and summing it up in a few powerful words. No fillers. No long-winded explanations, just a few, carefully selected words to describe the essence of what I’m about, my life, Me.

In case you didn’t read it, here’s the idea.

According to history summarized in Daniel Pink’s video, Claire Boothe Luce, the first woman ambassador abroad, challenged John F. Kennedy with a probing question. During a meeting in 1962 she warned him of the dangers of muddling his legacy with too many distractions.

“A great man is a sentence,” she had said.

Consider Abraham Lincoln. “He preserved the Union and freed the slaves.”

Or Franklin D. Roosevelt. “He lifted us out of a great depression and helped us win a world war.”

It doesn’t get more brief and impactful than these two examples. But we don’t have to be running the world to change it. The truth is, we’re all sending out ripples into our world each day, and this “one sentence” idea can sharpen our own direction.

Like Musk said, it’s not some cheesy motto or brand you’re looking for. It’s about subtracting all the obvious and leaving only the meaningful.

Which requires that you know who you really are.

272608583664474663_7r3IwHYp_c Aunt B

via: Pinterest; Aunt B

Beneath the snappy mottos or the well-crafted brand you have a deeper self. The clarity begins by looking at these things:

  • What am I doing with my life?
  • Am I making the kind of difference that matters to me?
  • What do I stand for at my core?

A face from my past

This whole idea came back to me this past weekend when I ran into a dear, old friend, a woman who had once been a member of my extended family and even a bridesmaid in my own wedding. And while I felt so uplifted by the encounter, I was also stunned by the reality of time and the subtle shifts in our lives that can take us away from some people and towards others.

I never thought I would actually run into someone and say, “Has it really been over twenty years since we’ve seen each other?” I thought that line only happens in movies, not to me, in my life.  So I tried to remember how our paths had drifted. I had been living several hundred miles away. She had gone through a break-up with my uncle. There had been raw feelings and awkward shifts in family relationships that inevitably accompany divorce. And in the process, we had simply lost touch.

But seeing someone from my past was an exhilarating splash of cold water to my senses. It was like watching a faded gray photo suddenly transform into dizzying colors. When we hugged, I felt years suddenly melt away and I became that girl again from long ago, a time traveler propelled by fuzzy memories I’d thought were lost forever.



What is the first thing you say to someone you haven’t seen in twenty years?

Once the hugs and the rush of surprise is over, you find yourself rattling off an abbreviated version of your current life, plugging in vitally missing parts. And searching for a way to distill your life down to a few gushing words that paint a picture of your world. Of what you’ve been doing with your life.

At least that’s what happened to me this weekend. This weekend I got a glimpse of the road I’ve been on and it made me grateful and wistful and sentimental all in one breath.


I think if we’re lucky,  bumping into someone from our past can be a serendipitous gift.

It can jolt us into a deeper awareness and remind us of the unique road we’re traveling on.

Well, what do think?

Do you know the one sentence of your life?




I’m linking up here:





Unknown said...

Love this! I have thought about it often but don't really know what mine is. This will really make me think about it though. I think it changes often and to me, that is what life is about. Always changing, always reflecting on where you are and how you

c. Joy said...

Powerful. You've made me think and I want to change, just a bit. I can sum up my life (so far) - I just wonder what those I love would say... I'm going to go find out. Great post.

Lindsay said...

Love this idea! I'm going to be thinking about this one for awhile!


aloted said...

Hmm this got me thinking.
Right now I go with "I am not perfect but I am accepted by God".
God loves me just the way I am! Such a relief.

I found you via the ahola friday hop...

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