Kyeongyang Magazine has an article by a woman who for seven years has interviewed famous celebrities in Korea. She begins by noting how members of the Masai tribe in Africa answer when asked how many children they have. They don't give a number but say the name of each of their children. She considers that a very telling way of reminding us what unique individuals we are and that numbers are not able to do that.
So far she has interviewed more than 80 people and mentions that there are times when those close to them are not familiar with what they have revealed about themselves. During the interviews she is learning about humanity and doing a lot of loving. If she doesn't have an attraction for her subject, she finds it difficult to write up the interview.
She has discovered that the persons being interviewed fall into certain categories: those who find it easy to talk, those who show their importance, those who exaggerate, and those who are very introspective. But she has no difficulty with the many different ways we use to look back on our life. Most start off with the high points, but the failures remain very strong in the retelling.
She reminds us that the interview reveals what the person remembers of his or her life and what she wants to bring to our attention. It is not her life as such, but the way the person being interviewed sees their life.
She mentions the Japanese movie Wonderful Life in which the souls who have just died have to be processed before entering heaven. Each one has to give a memory of their life that for them was the happiest or most significant. The team doing the processing make a movie of the incident and return to show it to the person waiting to go to heaven. They see it and disappear with that one memory into eternity.
What, she asks us, would be our memory of the happiest or most significant moment in our life? She asks this same question of all those she interviews, both for amusement and interest. If we do not have happy memories and are not satisfied with our memories, she believes we should spend the rest of our years preparing to give an answer that would satisfy us.