The poet Mary Oliver describes autobiography as a story that is “rich and impossible of completion.” The notion that a whole life could be captured in words is preposterous, she seems to be saying, and she characterizes autobiography as “an intense, careful, expressive, self-interested failure.” But nonetheless, she gives it a whirl! Rather than writing about every important moment from her life, she chooses one
moment, a moment of truth that represents, somehow, who she is, and her tenure here on Earth:
When the young deer hung herself on the fence, catching one foreleg in a loop of wire, and the rough farm dogs were running toward her, I knew the only things I could do: hide my eyes, or run. And I ran, faster than ever before in my life, and flung my body against hers, so that we were both pressed against the mesh of the fence while the dogs raced back and forth. But the deer did not know my meaning, or if she did she still could not tolerate my nearness; she hooted like a goat, and yanked her foot free, and dashed away into the woods.
A few days later, I saw her in a field. In spite of the beads of blood that were left on the fence where she had pulled her snagged foot free, she was fine, she was nimble and quick; she was beautiful.
And I thought: I shall remember this all my life. The peril, the running, the howling of the dogs, the smothering. Then the happiness—of action, of leaping. Then the green sweetness of distance. And the trees: their thickness and their compassion all around.
Are you up for this impossible task, dear writers? Describe one
moment from your life that captures, or sums up, the essence of who you are. To get us started, check out these fantastic pieces from WtW members Whimsy