According to Gallup’s StrengthsQuest my top strength is Learner. In addition to learning about New England families and the complex relationships they had with their slaves in Allegra di Bonaventura’s article “Finding Adam” in The Chronicle Review (April 12, 2013), I learned that as I embark upon my adventure to write about my life, I will need to do what Bonaventura did when he was reading the diary of John Hempstead to learn about this man’s life. Bonaventura writes:
For Adam’s sake, I need to read between the lines of Joshua’s entries and look beyond the clapboards of his house to find out more about Adam Jackson and others like him.
Adam was a slave in the Hempstead house and definitely not a major character in the Hempstead diary.
I’m fortunate in the writing I’m doing because my mother left me a full account of her life, and at first glance, one could think that she has done most of the work for me. The first chapter of the book I’m writing was done in 1994, and my mother is the starring character as she is in the account she left for me. But as I’ve been reading what she left, I, too, must read between the lines and look beyond her perspective to find out more about other characters, particularly my father.