I am doing this study primarily for my own personal sake. And there are several reasons for my interest in it.

Labour of love

Firstly, I’m doing it for the sheer joy of it. Going through documents in the archive or sitting in front of the keyboard, trying to put words together into a text, is usually the closest I come to the experience of flow — a “feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity … complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one’s sense of space and time.” It simply makes me happy and makes me feel I’m living a good senior life.

 

Curiosity of myself

The project also satisfies my curiosity of myself: a so far largely unknown person, whom I have already learnt to know much better over the last couple of years. It takes a moral saint to truthfully claim that you have no narcissistic traits; academics in particular are prone to have a lot of them, and I am no exception. I don’t believe in repressing the narcissistic impulse, but to be aware of it, keep it under control, and put it to use for more lofty aims.

Prepare for death

Furthermore, as I am slowly, but steadily, growing older, I feel an increasing need both for enjoying and being proud of my past achievements and for atoning for my misdeeds. Taking stock of my life history seems like a good way to prepare myself for the final part of my life, without too much anxiety — maybe even obtain ataraxia. I hope memoir writing can help me age and die peacefully!

 

Gnothi seauton

Finally, I can perhaps even become a better person? The ancients knew that the understanding of one’s motives, thoughts, and feelings (know thyself, nosce te ipsum, gnothi seauton, γνῶθι σεαυτόν) is an important prerequisite for doing good deeds. Even though I am growing older, I may still have another 10-20 active years to live — and it’s never too late to contribute to making the world a better place.