When your whole life flashes before your delete button

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comOctober 25, 2011 

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I was born at a very young age.

I share this tidbit to make a point.

What if you had to tell your life story in only 150 words? In this case, I would have burned up eight words and still be at a very young age. This could get difficult.

I've seen it attempted on tombstones.

Roger Milliken will go down in history as one of the greatest South Carolinians of all time. He moved his family textile company to Spartanburg in 1954 and built it into one of the world's leading textiles and chemical manufacturers, with 7,000 employees in six nations and more patents than any other privately held company in America. His impact on the state's economy is immeasurable. In 1999, Textile World magazine named Milliken the textile industry's Leader of the Century.

Yet when he died last December, Milliken's grave marker summarized his life in a single word: "Builder."

Reader's Digest has a project going called "Your Life ... The Reader's Digest Version." It is a contest, with entries limited to 150 words, readers picking a favorite by voting at Facebook.com/ReadersDigest, and the winner getting $25,000 and his or her life story published in Reader's Digest.

Ellen Lattman of Hilton Head Island submitted her life story in 70 words. It's called "My Life From A - Z." Here's the whole thing, something of a blend of haiku and Twitter:

"Trying to describe my life in 150 words or less is best done through the alphabet. A=amazing B=beautiful C=compassionate D=delightful E=eerie F=fun G=grateful H=humble I=incredible J=jubilant K=kind L=loving M=miraculous N=nebulous O=original P=positive Q=quirky R=rough S=sensational T=tremendous U=unique V=veracious W=wondrous X=xerotic Y=youthful Z= zest for living."

She told me that "eerie" is tied to the time she worked on a haunted boat in Shelter Cove Harbour, "xerotic" can be connected to a dry climate like the one where she once lived, and "miraculous" reflects her recovery from a head injury that left her unable to speak or walk.

Each word could be a chapter. She pondered the problem and said, "I'll go with less." She hopes it ends with the exclamation point of $25,000.

Which leads back to my own life story: "I was born at a very young age. After that, the less said the better."

Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.

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