Presidents, prime ministers and celebrities of various kinds, often write their memoirs after leaving their place on the stage of life. Off the centre stage, they can come back by means of their memoir. Sometimes the memoir helps improve their image; sometimes it has no effect; sometimes it takes decades before the perspective on their life is acquired and, even then, that perspective changes with the centuries. Sometimes the general view of the person changes inspite of not because of the memoir.—Ron Price….For a recent discussion of this issue of memoirs see the discussion of Bill Clinton’s memoirs made public on June23, 2004. These memoirs of 900+pages and other presidential memoirs were examined in “The |Jim Lehrer Hour,” SBS TV, 5:00-6:00 pm, June 22, 2004.
“Autobiography,” wrote the poet Wallace Stevens “is the supreme fiction.” For someone like me who is striving to tell it straight, this is a challenging idea from Stevens. If he is right, that all my life, no matter how I tell it, is a fiction then perhaps it is in the sense that Baha’u'llah once wrote: that life is like “a vapour in the desert which the thirsty dreameth to be water, but when he comes upon it he finds it to be mere illusion.” But there is so much more to this whole concept. Indeed, the Baha’i experience, at least the experience of many Baha’is, was much richer than its expression in print, rich as that may have been from time to time. The modesty, the reticence, the reserve, the quietness, the tendency, so often, to look and listen, to a certain kindness provided them with time and space for organizing and reorganizing their responses to a world in flux. For the most part, those responses did not take the form of a written memoir or autobiography.
There comes a time in our lives which Joseph Campbell, expert student of mythology, says raises the curtain, opens the window of meaning. It is a call. In the process of responding to this call we undergo the mystery of transfiguration. He says it is a rite, a moment, of spiritual passage, which, when complete, amounts to a dying and a birth. For me, the familiar life horizon in Burlington had been outgrown as I turned eighteen. The old concepts, ideals, and emotional patterns didn’t fit any longer. They tired me, fatigued my spirit. They were like the pebbles on a path I had walked along too many times. They did not become imbued with the nostalgia of familiarity; they became imbued with the dust of staleness. The time had come for the passing of a threshold, for a change of scene, an adventure. I had no idea what was to come, what was in store as I finished my exams in grade 12, played my last games of baseball in the juvenile league, filled the slot machines for Frank Duff in Dundas or went for evening walks with my mother in the months of spring and summer in 1962.
Typical of the circumstances of the call, writes Campbell, are the dark forest, the great tree, the babbling spring. And there is in the background of all of this the underestimated appearance of the carrier of the power of destiny. For me, the Great Tree and the underestimated power of destiny was this new Faith I had been playing with on the edge for perhaps a decade in late childhood and adolesence. At the time, in 1962, I had absolutely no interest in keeping a diary, as some young people are want to do. That desire was more than twenty years away on another continent. I had no interest in becoming a celebrity and I never have. As the years have gone on, thirty as a classroom teacher, celebrity in a classroom has been enough for me.—Ron Price, Tasmania, Australia