But I do think we’d be better off if we heeded the essayist’s reminder that we can find common ground with other people, if we look hard enough. Michele de Montaigne, the 16th century writer and philosopher who gave this form its name, observed that “Every man has within himself the entirety of the human condition.” Read an essay by the likes of Ira Sukrungruang, Eula Biss, Gayle Pemberton, or Jill Talbott every day or two, and you’ll find that idea easy to remember. If you’re anything like me, you might wind up becoming a more patient and compassionate person as a result.
This reading came to me at a time when I am at the beginning of a what I plan to be a long journey into personal essay writing. It resonates with me because I am of the belief that there is not just one human history; there are billions. Each individual person has their own version of the events that transpire throughout a lifetime. I think it is vitally important to our sociocultural anthropology that we preserve as many of these stories as possible, and I plan to do my part by sharing mine.