“Life punches me in the face.”
Jordan Smith, 12, sixth grade, Harmony School of Innovation, San Antonio, Texas
From: Things Don’t Have to Be Complicated: Illustrated Six-Word Memoirs by Students Making Sense of the World, compiled by Larry Smith
What would you say if you had just six words to define your life? That’s the challenge Larry Smith presented to his online community, SMITH Magazine, in 2006, challenging contributors to come up with a half-dozen words of self-reflection. The constraint, it turned out, fueled rather than inhibited creativity.
Inspired by Six Words’ popularity in English classes and art classes alike, Smith recently called for submissions for illustrated Six-Word Memoirs, in which he asked students in grade school to create a piece of artwork that enhanced their memoirs.
The voices in Things Don’t Have to Be Complicated might be young, but they are nonetheless profound. At its core, the Six-Word Memoir offers a simple way for anyone of any age to try to answer the question that defines us all: Who am I?
This is a kid who’s learned early what to expect for the next—interminable—80 years.