Robert Poynton
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The Book of Your Life

March 6, 2024 – 2 min read


Imagine you had written a book. What kind of book would you like it to be – a novel, a history, a text book, poetry? What would you have written about – fish, acupuncture, space invaders? Consider it done. Ignore the self doubt and just for a minute or two imagine that all the struggle is behind you. The book is ordered and tidy, your words smile back at you from the page, sitting just where they should be. All you have left to do is add the acknowledgements and thanks.

Now, with your book in mind, think of those who have helped you. Who has buoyed you up on dark days, who was it that believed you had something worth saying? Who has given you material, ideas, energy or inspiration; who has made you tea, or food, or dragged you out of a slump for a walk that you sorely needed but wouldn’t have taken alone? The book may be imaginary, but these are real people. Notice them. Name them.

Others will have listened with interest and sent you articles, references, links and connections to yet more people who in turn opened doors to things you did not even dream of. Who are they? And who are those that have challenged or questioned you, helping you to see your work afresh, taking you further than you thought you could go? Take a moment to acknowledge them too.

Then, go further back and think of those that taught you and nourished you. Parents, children, teachers, guides, playmates, critics, allies, neighbours, lovers, friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. Some of these may not be around any more. Devote a moment or two to them too.

Now forget the book. What is true for a book, is already true anyway, for all of us. Whatever we have done, or not done, we all have many people to thank, in different ways, for different reasons. The book of your life, in all its mystery, is something to be wondrously grateful for and none of us make it alone. 

This article was inspired by writing the thanks and acknowledgements for Do Conversation my most recent book, which was published (in the UK) on 7th March 2024 (and will be released in the US on 7th May).

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