I belong to multiple email lists and one of them is “Writers” an email list that is more of a writing workshop and social club. Anyway, someone on that list posted that she kept an online or virtual journal. When she passed on, it would pass with her. It would simply blip out of existence. I thought, “How sad.” She posts snippets of her life often and mentions her son and grandchildren. I kept thinking how her journal would comfort them. I don’t know them, I have no idea how much they enjoy reading or even how much time they enjoy spending with her. I can only assume that they do enjoy her company. They just sound like a close family.
I thought about all the genealogists, I belong to a number of genealogy email lists as well. I know that there are people out there, including myself, who would love to read the journals of their ancestors. I don’t even have many pictures of my grandparents, much less my great grandparents. Some people have mementos that date back to the 19th century. I can’t even document the 20th century. A journal would be priceless to me, no matter how prosaic the prose. I am going to refer to the poster as M as I don’t know if she would appreciate me criticizing her decision to leave nothing of herself for her family. That is how I see her comment, as a decision to leave nothing of herself to her family. She goes on to say she found a journal that her late husband kept and how it comforts her to have it. I guess she is not really thinking ahead.
Journals are many things to many people. Mine is both a place where I can spill my feelings of frustration and anger into words that have the potential to hurt. They hurt no one in the pages of my journal. They are unsaid. It is a repository for my dreams of publication and the smaller ambition to get organized. I will do that this year, I swear. I don’t speak much of world events; I am not part of that. I am affected, don’t get me wrong, but I have contributed nothing to the events themselves. I am only an observer. I prefer that role. The participants don’t always look as though they are having much fun. No, I record my opinions and thoughts, my story ideas. Sometimes I even write the stories themselves in these pages. It’s a flexible journal, both public and private. I save it in zipped files by year. I will have to get a DVD RW and transfer the previous years from their CDROM to the DVD together with the last two years. When the next bit of technology comes out, I will move the files to that. I am even considering dumping the nice formatting and just saving them as text files, but that may be going a bit far, although it would save space on the disk.
Do I expect my words to comfort anyone after I am gone? No, I don’t. I expect that someone, somewhere, might read these words and know who I am from them. I will take the more public bits from these pages, post them on my blog site and share them with the world. For the most part, my thoughts are my own, but sometimes I want to share them. Wonderful or not, I want to share my thoughts and see if there are people out there who might agree with me. That’s what my public journal is not a dry report of my life but a rich report of my mind. Ok, that might be a bit over-the-top grandiosity, but sometimes it’s fun to go there. I like to have fun, even if it’s only in my head. When I pass, this journal will stand as my monument, my memorial. At least, I hope it will.
This is an odd topic for the beginning of a new year. I know that, but I have never followed the herd much. I won’t go so far as to say that I always follow a different drumbeat. I haven’t. I’ve followed the herd sometimes, because to go against it was too hard, but that’s a topic for another week.