Wednesday, March 16, 2005

50 Years of Journals

What if you could read a journal that was 50 years old? What if it was about people you knew? What if it was about parents and grandparents of people you know? What if the journal was kept by a very observant person? What if you were mentioned, described, or even explained in the pages of those journals?

That's exactly what I discovered about a friend of a friend. She has kept a journal since 1954. She was obsessive about keeping the journal, all little notes written in little black books about everything. How interesting would it be to read it?

Several have said that they consult her often because her observations are as sparkles from a diamond, bright, insightful and sometimes blinding in their clarity. Hum, I wonder what she'd say about me? Some folks don't say much out loud but there's sometimes something baking in the oven and they later write about it.

Here's the really interesting thing about this person. Her journals are mentioned in her will. She has specified that all of them be burned. She has even specified WHO will do the burning. She has left nothing to chance.

Of course it's possible that you would not know any of the people she mentions in her journals. It's possible that it would be pure entertainment. But It's more likely that you could learn something.

I sometimes go back to past journals and re-read them. It's interesting that some of the things I obsessed on, never became issues. Other things that I didn't comment a lot on, changed my world.

Journals are really portals overlooking the vast sea upon which we travel. But they are portals at the stern. They only look back. Time is unidirectional. The wakes behind us do not chart our course, they only tell us where we've been. Journals are the same. Worrying about the past while living the present is like driving using only your rear view mirror. It's important to look at the past so as to view the progress made, but too much attention will lead to a crash in the present.

Truth is, few people would want others to view their journals. The point of journaling is to feel free to express your views. How can you be truly free if you are afraid of someone peeking over your shoulder? And I guess that's really the point of the old lady's 50 year journals. She's said what she wanted, more to purge her soul than to publish her views. When her life is over, so are theirs.

My wife says I'm nosy, at least that's what she wrote in her diary.