June 02, 2011

7 words

I've been privileged to collaborate with my father, a talented author. I write essays and prose (and brochures for my clients); he has written numerous books and textbooks. While our writing styles differ, we both love to write.

Since he retired, he's devoted more time to writing. He's called on me to design book covers and layout and illustrate the interiors. We even wrote a book together, Voice 2x2, a warm and humorous comparative of our two voices, side by side, in a series of essays in response to the same questions.

As much as we like to write, we love to measure things. With our little weather stations, we both keep daily track of the rainfall as an example. We used to count steps walking to school but we got over that...

My latest project was assisting with his autobiography with the photos he selected as illustrations for key memories. While his life contains joyful discovery and experiences, as the last 10 years evolved, I found it incredibly painful to process. I had to stop and take a break for a few days as I found myself weeping. These pages held poignant recollections of people I love that are no longer alive and I found myself grieving all over again. Like my Uncle Les. And my grandfather with whom I share an incredible love for what can be grown in this earth's generous soil.

Then, I noted something sweetly startling. My father is consistent. Recounting his first 24 years, he took 2,805 words per year. No different in the last 11; he used 2,811 words, an average of 7 words a day.

His memorable experiences, influences and impacts expressed in 7 words a day! Wow. If our most meaningful experiences can be summarized in 7 words a day... what 7 words did I use yesterday? Did I bring joy to anyone yesterday with just 7 words? What impact will I have today with just a few warm words to a friend, client or store clerk.

What 7 words will define your day?

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