What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Yes, Plan to Write a Memoir

August 31, 2012, 1:03 PM
Big%20think-memoir%20photo

We, the living, have won the history jackpot. As centuries go, the 20th century ranks as exceptional, a hard to fathom whirlwind. (The apocalyptic way Stalin and Hitler mass-murdered side-by-side.) But as the 20th century came to a close, the 1990s seemed too comfortable, like a pair of beige Keds worn with khaki pants, and an over-sized navy Gap sweater. As Chuck Palahniuk wrote in the nineties-defining novel Fight Club, “We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression.” Not anymore. One day, future historians will obsess over us.

Obvious to everyone, we’re at a major turning point in the world right now. Global economic crisis. Irrefutable signs of global warming. America hasn’t been this divided since the Civil War. We’re seeing the difficult re-election campaign of the first African American president. Technology continues to disrupt and evolve industries. Steve Jobs, who passed away almost a year ago, left behind a legacy of evening out the playing field for independent artists—a massive boon for culture. (Technology may even replace journalists.) And there’s been a wave of gun violence across America. As always, science is supplying the much-needed optimism with the Mars rover landing and the discovery of the Higgs Boson. At the turn of the 21st century, Tyler Durden of Fight Club should have his fill of "historical adrenaline."

So we here, standing on the edge of “something’s gotta give,” cannot take our thoughts and feelings for granted. Our voices are needed to capture this extreme time. Write a memoir. Primary sources, like memoirs, are invaluable to historians. Memoirs will not only make this time come alive for them, but they will provide crucial microscopes. Historians want to know, how did this person, living in this corner of the world, think, feel, get by or thrive.

Writing a memoir isn't reserved for the Churchills of the world; it is an invaluable gift to one’s family. Jerry Waxler, of the Memory Writers Network, explains:

“When I was a child, the prevailing opinion seemed to be that it wasn’t appropriate for adults to tell about their early lives. However, according to research by child-psychiatrist Daniel Siegel, parents who don’t tell their stories contribute to their children’s limited understanding of their role in the world. It certainly appears to have been the case for me. The way my parents and grandparents presented themselves, it felt like they dropped from the sky.”

Jerry and I connected over my grandfather’s Soviet memoir, which my grandfather Olexji wrote shortly before he passed away. His memoir has led me on an adventure through the Ukraine and Russia, to the offices of Oscar Award-winning producers, to a road trip through Wales, to giving talks in museums in Chicago and New York, and to meeting fascinating people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. While my grandfather wasn’t a writer by training, he wrote down the most compelling memories of his life which created vivid scenes for the reader. His stories of being a political prisoner tortured by the KGB in Ukraine bend time and space and make me feel as though I’m there, in his calming prayers to God from a hellish prison. My life would have been completely different without his memoir.

Looking back on our lives, we often see the experiences that, at the time, fell below our expectations were some of the most enriching and full of opportunity. It is one of those painful lessons of maturity to realize this, and to learn to appreciate the journey. Similarly, one should never take for granted that writing a memoir could change and enhance the lives of others in unimaginable ways.

 

Yes, Plan to Write a Memoir

Newsletter: Share: