A Six Word Life

Dr. James Emery White | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary | Monday, December 29, 2008

A Six Word Life

Could you sum up your life in six words?


After this year, some of you might say, “Sure.  It has been a living hell.’”


Actually, hundreds attempted the summation in the surprise best seller Not Quite What I Was Planning.


Get it?  (the title is itself a six word example)


Some examples of how the contributors – some famous, some not – attempt to succinctly sum up their lives:


“Liars, hysterectomy didn’t improve sex life!” (Joan Rivers)


“Well, I thought it was funny.”  (Stephen Colbert)


“Maybe you had to be there.”  (Roy Blount, Jr.)


“Revenge is living well, without you.”  (Joyce Carol Oates)


Many of the submissions are poignant, such as “Followed yellow brick road.  Disappointment ensued.”  Or “Should have risked asking, he sighed.”  Then there was the USA Today reporter who offered his own while reviewing the book:  “Dad was Santa.  Downhill from there.”


Fun game at a dinner party.  Maybe even cheap therapy.


But how should a life be summarized?

It’s the end of one year and the start of another.  We naturally reflect and reposition; regret and re-commit; remember and then renew. 


Perhaps it’s a good time to try and strap on a six-word goal.


I even have one we might all consider.  It was the six-word summation of the life of David.


“…did God’s will during his lifetime” (Acts 13:36, NCV).


At least it beats “Never really finished anything, except cake.”


James Emery White





“People’s memoirs.  Six words.  Surprising results.”  Craig Wilson, USA Today, Wednesday, December 3, 2008, p. 1D.


Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure.


A Six Word Life