16 August 2020

Summarize your life in six words

That is the premise of a book published by the editors of Smith magazine. I had heard the book discussed on the BBC one morning and had to wait months to get it from our library, but it was worth the wait - a delightful read. The editors/authors asked famous and ordinary people to sum up their lives in exactly six words. The results range from humorous to clever to sardonic to frankly poignant. Herewith some of my favorites:

Followed yellow brick road. Disappointment ensued.
I thought I was someone else.
Wanted world, got world plus lupus.
Tragical childhood can lead to wisdom.
I recognize red flags faster, now.
Nothing profound, I just sat around.
Found true love, married someone else.
Macular degeneration. Didn’t see that coming.
As a child, nomadic. Now static.
No words can describe my life.
Afraid of becoming like my mother.
Two boys, my life, conquering autism.
Lost and found, rescued by dog.
Can’t tonight, watching Law and Order.
My life’s a bunch of almosts.
Thought I would have more impact.
At the end of normal street.
Found great happiness in insignificant details.
Still lost on road less traveled.
Everyone who loved me is dead.
The car accident changed my life.
No wife, No kids. No problem.
Boys liked her. She preferred books.
Never really finished anything, except cake.
Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends.
I fell far from the tree.
Alone at home, cat on lap.
Educated too much, lived too little.
Full life; impossible to summarize in…
My second grade teacher was right.
Became my mother. Please shoot me.
Can’t read all the time. Bummer.
I wrote a poem. Nobody cared.
Working with what God gave me.
Same mistakes. Over and over again.
Still trying to impress my dad.
So devastated, no babies for me.
Thank God the suicide attempt failed.
Made labor-saving software: thousands unemployed.
Unfortunately, there was no other way.
Expected prime rib. Ended with hamburger.
Father, son, both hit by cars.
Veni, Vidi, but haven’t vici yet.
I came, I saw, I concurred.
Dead mom watching. I’ll be good.
Type A personality. Type B capability.
Carries flask for unsociable social events.
Polio gave me my happy life.
Loved home. Left to make sure.
There will be no beautiful corpse.

The book is “Not Quite What I Was Planning; Six-word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure.” From Smith magazine (edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith).

Addendum:  Found this 2008 post while searching for something else; decided it was worth a bump to the front page.

Reposted from 2011 for the same reason.  Readers feel free to summarize you life in six words in a comment.


  1. Married. two kids, pets. Hilarity ensues.

  2. The universe smiled at me, mostly.

  3. Don't blink; you'll miss most of...

  4. A race between enlightenment and extinction.

  5. Finally married. Many pets. Basically happy.

  6. I don't like rules. Really.

  7. Walk, run, swim, cycle, climb, repeat.

  8. It was the best of times. (I'm sure Mr. D won't mind.)

  9. Lucky mostly unless I look closely

  10. no real purpose, apart from curiosity

  11. It is said Hemmingway invented the 6 word memoir when he was bet he could not tella complete story in a half a dozen words. Hemmingway being Hemmingway; he won the money. "For sale: baby shoes. Never worn."
    Mine might be, Knows a little about a lot.

  12. Never missed opportunity to miss opportunity

  13. Five horses. My head needs examining.


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