Memes and memoirs


I completely forgot about daylight saving time being today. Fortunately, it’s Sunday, and there was nowhere we had to be this morning. In past years, daylight saving has taken place in April, which is after the start of the field season, so if you slept in accidentally, you’d have volunteers waiting for you to show up at the research station. This works out better.

I was tagged yesterday by Wrenaissance Reflections to participate in a meme that’s been circulating some of the blogs I read. I don’t participate in a lot of memes usually, but the ones that are novel or interesting can be fun to do.


The word “meme” (pronounced “meem”) was coined by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene (which I’ve actually read, for a university course). In it he describes the idea that natural selection acts at the level of the gene (or the phenotypic manifestation of the gene, anyway), rather than the whole organism, and that a gene favoured by natural selection will be passed on whether or not it’s in the best interest of the organism (hence the idea of a “selfish” gene). He used the word meme to describe a cultural unit that propogates itself socially, in a manner like that of genes, in that it’s replicated from one individual to the next through speech or action, with interesting, practical or generally strong ideas or trends catching on, and weaker ones “dying out” and going extinct. Factors that influence the survival of genes, such as mutation, variation and competition, also affect the survival of memes.

Dawkins created the word from the Greek mimeme, meaning to imitate, and shortened it to sound like “gene”. He gave as examples things like tunes, clothing fashion, manufacturing techniques, new words and current buzzwords, cultural beliefs, etc. The idea of a meme as an online game or task passed between friends wasn’t within his original focus, but it does fit his definition, and these days the word “meme” has come to refer to these things. I suppose, as a kid, in the days before the internet got big, those chain letters or postcard projects you’d get in the mail with threats of bad luck should you break the chain were another form of memes.

Wikipedia has a lot of info on memes, and it’s an interesting read. Certainly there’s more information there than I can present in a short blog post.


Anyway, back to Wren’s meme tag. The current meme in question was started by BookBabie, after she read a book review of a memoir and her husband suggested she should write one (a memoir, not a book review). She commented that her memoir would be much too short, but later stumbled on a book called Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. The book is based on a story that Hemingway once bet he could sum up (his life? a fictional life?) in six words, which he did with “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” The idea appealed to BookBabie and she started up the meme, which has really caught on, favoured by the natural selection of cultural pressures that Richard Dawkins has described. Proof of this is in the fact that I’ve never heard of BookBabie before following the link in the meme back to her blog, and yet here I am, doing her meme.

The rules, faithfully copied-and-pasted from blog to blog as the meme gets passed along, are as follows:

1. Write your own six word memoir

2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like

3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere

4 .Tag five more blogs with links

5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

Dog-strangling Vine

I had to give this a lot of thought, and I checked out a number of other people’s 6-word memoirs while doing so. Bookbabie’s was “This too shall pass, I hope.” Wren, who tagged me, wrote, “Cynicism and enchantment coexist within me.” Jennifer of A Passion for Nature wrote, “She never cared much for sun.” Beth from Beth’s Stories wrote, “Happy mom loves to climb mountains.” Ruth at Nature Knitter wrote, “Knitting and nature rock my world.” You can keep tracking them back to the taggers, or spend quite a lot of time reading the comments and trackbacks on BookBabie’s original post.

As far as my own tags, a lot of the blogs I follow have already posted their own 6-word memoir. However, I don’t think Nina of Nature Remains, Mary of Mary’s View, Susannah of Wanderin’ Weeta, or Carolyn at Roundtop Ruminations have played yet, so to these four, and anyone else who’d like to – tag, you’re it… but only if you want to!

Red-spotted Purple

I had come up with a half dozen and actually settled on a take-off from Hemingway’s classifieds-themed one at first: Lost: curious heart, answers to Nature. So much of my life and my interest is wrapped up in the outdoors and nature that you can sum a lot up in that. But, it’s not the whole me, and I wasn’t completely satisfied with that. There’s more to me that isn’t touched upon by that statement. My creative side, my artwork and need to work hands-on. My desire to share my knowledge with interested people and the enjoyment I take from that. Also, aspects of my personality. Those who know me in person know me to be a very quiet person, shy at times, independent and often a bit of a loner. But if you get me talking on a subject close to my heart, I can open right up. I’m good at hiding my shyness, usually, and am friendly and open with people, and I love to share things and teach interested people.

A Quiet Song

I was reading a completely unrelated website when something within it sparked a thought. And so I wrote this, which I think sums me and my life up nearly completely:

From deep within, a quiet song