You and Your Co-Pilot: The Theme of Your Life

Oprah has a new book in the works. No, it’s not an autobiography. It’s a recipe book titled, “Food, Health and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life.”

A recipe book? Why is a recipe book the focus of a blog on a personal history site?

Well, read what Oprah had to say about her newest venture:

“When I come upon something useful, something that brings me pleasure or comfort or ease, I want everyone else to know about it and benefit from it, too. And that is how this cookbook came to be. It’s my life story—the lessons I’ve learned, the discoveries I’ve made—told through food.”

Aha. You knew it would tie back.

Most everyone can identify a theme that has co-piloted them through their life. A struggle, a passion, a quest. For Oprah, evidently, it’s her relationship with food.

Barack Obama wrote “Dreams from My Father” with a focus on the role race played in his young and adult life. My mother-in-law wrote her story as it was lived through each of her many homes. A former client relayed his memoirs as they intersected with the jobs he held.

What would be your theme?

It’s an interesting question even if you’re not in the biography business.

But if you are interested in writing your life story—or are looking for help to do so—think hard about it. What themes have accompanied you through life? A love of teaching? A search for family? A passion for travel?

For some people, a theme simplifies the memoir writing process. It provides them with a focus, an anchor for their story. For others, the theme is so obvious, so ever-present, they can’t imagine telling their life story through any other lens.

If a theme resonates with you, consider aligning your story along with it. And, take the Oprah approach. Share what lessons you learned, what discoveries you made as they relate to that theme.

Share your life story, and allow your co-pilot a chance to speak too.