At the end of this post, I am going to ask you a favor. But first, let me set the stage.
The family room was a mess. The dogs had tracked dirt and dead grass from the backyard across the floor and sofas. The “crap counter” was living up to its beloved nickname — filled with mail, homework, textbooks, odds and ends, and our pandemic-purchased air fryer that fit nowhere else in the kitchen. My younger son sat at the table doing homework. I was distracted, looking for a broom, when he looked up and surprised me by talking about lunchtime at high school.
“We stand in a circle,” he said. “And sometimes someone will come late and they’ll be standing behind someone, outside of the circle. And I’ll notice, and say ‘Guys, open up, make the circle bigger, let her in.'”
Well. Need I say that this single moment is better and more important than any grade or achievement? I was proud of him both for noticing, and for acting. How many times have I not noticed someone’s exclusion, or noticed but stayed quiet?
It recalled for me a speech by Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries, eight or nine years ago. I sat with my family listening to his homily. Behind Father Greg sat some of his “homies” — former gang members who joined Homeboy Industries to return to society, employment and moral support. “We draw our family circles too small,” Father Boyle said, quoting Mother Teresa. “Imagine a circle of compassion where no one is outside the circle.” Could that have been the seed planted for my son’s expansive thinking?
We live in small circles. Family, friends, colleagues. The global pandemic (incredible how those words roll off the tongue and keyboard so fluidly now) shrank our circles to the size of our rooms and homes. School was a computer screen. Now he has expanded back to school, its lunch area still riddled with boundaries.
Imagine drawing the circle so big that no one is standing outside it. What would that even look like? How can we start in our own ways?
I am drawing my own circle wider in a small way by expanding who can access my posts. Though I have loyal followers here (some more than others — Hi Mom! Hi Joyce!), other spaces offer a potential to reach many more.
So starting today, I am posting on Medium.com, which brings me to the favor: Please read my post on Medium (“How to Write a Memoir”) and “follow” me there.
(Medium lets everyone read a few articles for free each month. Or, you can become a member for $5 per month and gain unlimited access to all of Medium’s content.)
You have loyally read my words in this space and I am so appreciative of your feedback and this relationship with you. I hope you get something from it, too. Let’s keep it going.
Please enjoy this 3-minute read about how I came to be writing a memoir.
P.S. Bonus content: Writing a memoir requires revealing the good, bad and ugly. With that in mind, here’s what I look like when I wrote this.